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Professional development, workload and burnouts

By Niels Lameijer on Dec 14, 2010 at 08:30 AM in Corporate Coaching Blog, General, News

Due to budget cuts, work pressure has been mounting in almost every organization. Employees on all levels are asked to do more work with fewer resources. Key piece of advice: keep an eye on your company's workload to utilize fully your company's biggest asset --your employees!

Healthy work pressure is exactly what it is ... healthy. This pressure keeps the employees onto their toes; it keeps them engaged and pushes them slightly outside of their comfort zone. A healthy workload will be experienced as a challenge which increases productivity and happiness. Living up to the pressure gives employees a kick. Without such a "kick," boredom will eventually kick-in and cause the employees' professional development to stall and company productivity to decrease.

However, there is too little time to finish the work, employees will start showing symptoms of stress (concentration problems, low energy and sleeplessness) which decreases productivity and happiness. In the long run these levels of stress can even lead to burnout and significant health challenges.

Balance the workload and invest in professional development

How can you prevent your workforce's productivity from decreasing? The simplest answer is to make sure you have well balanced expectations and resources available based on your employees capabilities. Surprisingly this does not necessary mean decreasing the amount of work hours.

A recent European study has shown that the number of hours worked do not determine how employees experience work pressure. For example 68% of the participants in the Netherlands are comfortable with their level of pressure at work. This is the highest score in Europe. In Sweden only 37% of the employees consider themselves happy with the amount of work expected from them.

Why is it that some people experience more pressure than others? It is the employees' personal perception that determines how comfortable they are with their workload. And this is good news for employers; they can make a significant difference in this area.

Some ways you can influence the perception of stress include:

  • Consistently communicate clear roles and responsibilities
  • Invest in a positive company culture. Setting aside time and resources for team building is not a luxury; it is a requirement for corporate success.
  • Giving your employees influence on the planning and delegation of work increases the feeling of empowerment
  • Live and breathe the company's vision and mission -- and highlight and reward employees contribution to the company.