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Managing pressure at work: Put the oomph into extra hours!

Gulf News

Are you being asked to work longer for no more money? Would you like your team to put in more hours without feeling resentful?

Not easy questions, but ones that need to be answered.

Real estate prices have yet to reach the bottom, economic conditions are still difficult and it will be those companies who manage to get enthusiastic co-operation from their workforce who will gain competitive advantage. It is a fine balancing act between getting your team to work longer hours but not losing their commitment and loyalty.

Certainly one of the keys to success is tenacity and many people will be unlikely to achieve their personal goals without putting in the extra hour when needed.

Some people may choose to work longer hours and it may well suit them. Someone who has difficulties at home and who is throwing themselves into their job to try and forget their emotional problems or the young professional who wants to prove themselves to their manager. So for them, the extra work that they do is welcomed and, in fact, it fills an unwanted gap in their lives. They don't see it as a sacrifice and certainly don't go home at night with any regrets.

Long working hours

So for those who want to prove themselves indispensable, longer hours are no problem, but for others it can mean feeling stressed because there is an expectation on them to work more hours when they desperately want to be at home with their families or lead an active social life. It is these individuals that the company needs to be aware of and to make more accepting of the position.

We know that the impact of long hours can be significant and that it may not be what some people agreed to when they first took on the job. So how can you ensure people still put in the hours without feeling resentful or becoming stressed? Three simple solutions come to mind.

When people understand the reasons influencing situations around staff cuts, increased hours or changes in work schedules, etc, they will better appreciate that the way to stay in the business is to work harder for a while. Never take your team for granted and share your challenges with them so that they are on your side.

When people spend more time at work than at home, some of their emotional needs remain unfulfilled. The needs to be appreciated, recognised and valued for their contribution. If you don't want your team to become ‘needy' and emotionally insecure, then a word at the right time in the right place can make a huge difference.

‘Quiet rooms'

Simple strategies like bringing in coffee for those staying late, or maybe McDonalds vouchers to say "thank you" to take out the whole family, arranging longer opening hours for the staff canteen with healthy foods available to demonstrate to employees that their hard work is appreciated.

And don't forget that a long hours culture doesn't always mean effective working. Extra hours don't necessarily mean more profits. Shorter hours with an enthusiastic, happy team are usually more productive than longer hours with a sullen, resentful staff.

Customers, clients and suppliers, all prefer to deal with a company that is clearly working as a cohesive team. And successful teams are like chains. Each link is under pressure when there is a load to be taken.

If only one link is broken or weak, then the entire chain fails and the load is dropped. That is why chain slings are inspected regularly for any sign or wear or damage before being used, so as to avoid any possibility of accident or injury to those around.

So do you inspect every link in your chain regularly for signs of wear, so that your company can lift a load successfully without anything breaking? I wonder.

Key points

  • Enthusiastic co-operation gives competitive advantage
  • A long hours culture doesn't always mean effective working
  • Successful teams are like chains, each link is important.

The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies - www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

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