Work pressure makes your team underperform. People get sick more often, team trust and cohesion dissipate. Nothing works as well as it should. So, before trying to boost productivity in any other way, consider dealing with work pressure.
Besides, both work pressure and well-being are equally contagious. They can put down or lift up the whole team. That’s why random acts of kindness work so well. And that’s why team cohesion is important. It all comes down to what makes a team different from a group of people. Teams share goals and work to achieve them. They become a decisive unit.
Alleviating work pressure at a team level is surprisingly easy. In a sense, it’s a lot like being a good mom. All you have to do is make sure your team has what it needs in terms of nutrition. That they are actively concerned with their well-being. And that they’re responsible in how they use their time at work. So let’s delve into the heart of the matter
#1 Beat work pressure with brain chemistry
For this, you need science in your corner. A lot of the things you feel have to do with neurotransmitters. In short, these are chemicals your brain uses to relay information between neurons. Anxiety, for example, shows itself with an escort of neurotransmitters. Serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine. And a bunch of others that are easy to mispronounce. The list could go on. Every feeling you have, every mood you go through.
So what if you could improve your mood with food? Might sound cliché, but brain chemistry confirms it. To produce the neurotransmitters, your brain uses stuff from food. For example, tyrosine, an amino-acid, converts to dopamine.
And you can get loads of tyrosine in seeds, especially almonds, pumpkin and sesame seeds. This won’t be enough. You need to stuff your snack bar with B vitamins and even some healthy fats. Nuts and seeds and the occasional chocolate go a long way. Sure, you can also have fish, leafy greens and a lot of fruit.
We’ve covered this before when we talked about happiness at work. Snack bars make people happy. They provide wonderful context for healthy breaks. And they soothe work pressure and boost productivity. Sure, the extra calories might prove problematic. But nutritious choices are easier to find than ever.
The best thing about the snack bar is that it can also boost your happiness at work. And that’s essential to reducing work pressure. Overall, going out of your way to provide a snack bar will pay off. Your team will be happier, less stressed and a whole lot more productive. It’s a win for everyone. And budget-wise, it’s peanuts.
#2 Flexible time slots dial down work pressure
No one is an expert on how your team deals with work pressure. And neither are they. All you can do is facilitate relief. And one of the best ways to deal with relief is to allow your team to self-manage time slots.
There are two main ways time slots affect work pressure. One is the time people leave or come in for work. And the other one is taking breaks. Typically, an organization has a clock-in time, and a clock-out time + the lunch break.
Think about it this way: you’re expected to come in for work at around 09:00 and work for about 4 hours. You then have a lunch break and are back at work for another 4 hours. For knowledge workers, this schedule is often counterproductive. Why? Very few people can focus for 4 hours. We’ve covered this before. People need productive breaks so that they can sustain their focus.
So why is it better to have your team members clock in at 9 and leave off at 13:00? It’s not. In fact, it’s merely a vestige of Ford’s 8 hour workday. And it’s inertia. And there’s no good reason for it to happen. Especially since many modern workplaces can use tech solutions to manage a variety of schedules.
Hence, flexible schedules and self-allocating teams will do the trick. Allow the team to decide when to work and when to take breaks. Let them manage time and you might be surprised. It has all the benefits of team decisions, and more.
It’s as easy as having it made clear that what you want is results. You want to reach set goals and that’s what your team should focus on. Self-regulation is a good bet here. Because the team will keep itself accountable and work pressure will dissipate.
#3 Beat work pressure with a well-being culture
Dealing with work pressure should become part of your organizational culture. Yet, many companies start doing this well, and then fail. For example, they build up a basketball team. Have people join up and maybe even strike a competition with other branches/companies. While fun in itself, this may easily develop into something else.
Some people might feel pressured into joining, and others might feel like they have to stay on the side. It’s clearly not an all-inclusive type of activity. What’s worse is that you make your team compete with other teams for no good reason. Wouldn’t you rather have your team compete when it matters? Of course you would.
Building a well-being culture can be challenging. Especially considering how both well-being and work pressure are contagious. To do so, you need to promote positive attitudes towards well-being practices. You should encourage people to try meditation. Perhaps offer a seminar on mindfulness meditation one afternoon. Also, consider promoting other stress-relieving activities like yoga, martial arts, sauna programs, swimming, team sports. All you have to do is couple professional accomplishment with the well-being culture.
Meet Greg, the front-end developer. He’s also very flexible and loves to play tennis on weekends. His focus is razor sharp and key to his success. Imagine showcasing your team members as professionals that are passionate about well-being activities. It’s as easy as creating a 20 minute documentary about your team.
Furthermore, make good use of training and personal development. Many companies neglect to invest in training activities without explicit benefits. But having one coach deliver a seminar on resilience is far more effective than hoping that your team will just get it.
Overall, try and find that fine balance point. The one between nurturing your team and giving them some leeway. Ultimately, make sure your team knows how to balance work and life.