High-pressure work environments are not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it could be a sign of growth within the company and drive employees to higher levels of on-the-job performance. On the other hand, working in a high-pressure environment can also lead to higher levels of stress and anxiety — both of which can impact employee wellbeing.

When you combine these workplace stressors with outside issues, such as family responsibilities, financial concerns and societal issues, employee wellbeing can take a hit. Unfortunately, these factors can negatively impact the physical and mental health of your team, increase absenteeism and turnover, and reduce productivity and profits.

This article takes a deeper look into the impact high-pressure work environments have on employee wellbeing.


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understanding high-pressure environments

High-pressure working environments often employ workers for physically or mentally demanding jobs. Employees working in these fields may deal with few breaks during the day, constant workloads, repetitive tasks and strict deadlines. They may be on their feet all day or spend a majority of their working day dealing directly with customers, clients or patients.

You can find high-pressure work environments in various industries, including:

  • Construction
  • Education
  • Financial services
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • IT
  • Logistics
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • Retail

While these industries may seem very different, they do have one thing in common: they all have high-pressure workplaces that can be both physically and mentally stressful for the workers.

As part of a wellbeing initiative, employers in these industries must look for ways to help employees reduce stress and improve their overall wellbeing.

impact of high-stress jobs

According to a recent study, 26% of workers in the manufacturing industry admit to experiencing excessive stress at work. While some levels of stress at work are to be expected, excessive stress can significantly impact overall wellbeing and on-the-job performance. When employees face high levels of stress, it can lead to numerous wellness issues, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Body aches and pains
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Aggression
  • Health issues, such as heart disease, obesity and chronic pain
  • Substance abuse issues

These issues, in turn, can directly impact workplace performance, absenteeism and productivity and lead to high levels of worker burnout. The reality is that long-term stress can diminish job satisfaction, which puts your company at an increased risk of losing some of its best employees.


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importance of employee wellbeing in a high-pressure environment

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 25% of today’s workers rank work as their number one stressor. There’s no doubt that this number is higher for workers in high-pressure work environments.

There are several factors impacting workers in high-pressure environments, such as in the manufacturing and logistics industries, that create more stress and make it more difficult to manage stress, including:

  • Inflexible work schedules. Employers in many high-pressure industries, such as health care, manufacturing and logistics, require employees to work on-site and require each shift to be filled to maintain optimal production. This often means that workers in these fields have little flexibility in their work schedules, which can make it difficult to manage both their personal and work life responsibilities.
  • Physically demanding jobs. Many jobs in these high-pressure environments are physically demanding. Workers may be forced to stay on their feet for hours at a time with few breaks. This continuous motion can take a toll on the body and cause an array of health issues. In turn, this can lead to higher absenteeism and increased health care costs.
  • Irregular shift patterns. Some of these employers, including those in manufacturing and logistics, may require their employees to work irregular shifts. For example, some manufacturers have employees regularly change shifts and workdays. While these irregular shift patterns may give workers time to take care of their personal responsibilities, they can also wreak havoc on their bodies and sleep patterns.
  • Fluctuating production demands. Many high-pressure industries, such as manufacturing, health care, retail, construction and logistics, have fluctuating production demands. These shifts may fluctuate with seasonal demands, consumer demands, weather events, supply chain disruptions and a number of other reasons. In some instances, workers in these industries may go days without working and then be expected to work overtime to catch up or meet increasing production demands. These last-minute changes can make it even more difficult for workers to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Job insecurities. As technology and automation continue to change the way of work, more employees are concerned about losing their jobs to robots. 
    Randstad’s 2024 Workmonitor report recently revealed that 91% of UK workers rank job security as one of the top five most important factors when considering a new job. While studies show that many jobs lost due to automation will be replaced with tech-related jobs, workers still feel insecure about the stability of their jobs. Low-level employees in these industries are concerned that they don’t have the right skills to handle the new tech-related jobs.

Due to these added stressors, wellbeing in the workplace is even more important. It’s up to company leaders to create a healthy work environment where their employees can focus on wellbeing and reduce stress.

This may require a change in legacy thinking — where employers believe it’s up to each individual worker to take care of their own wellness. While workers may be personally responsible for their own wellbeing, it’s up to employers to provide workers with the tools they need to thrive in the workplace.

Unfortunately, those employers who fail to take action may see a direct hit on business outcomes. Lack of wellness in the workplace can reduce productivity, but it can destroy workplace morale, satisfaction and employee engagement. This is a recipe for high levels of employee burnout, absenteeism and turnover.

In today’s tight labour market and growing skills gap, employers in these high-pressure environments can’t afford to lose their best workers. Employee turnover may not be your only issue. You may lose your position as a competitive employer and have difficulty attracting and onboarding the skilled talent your organisation needs.

Male wearing safety glasses, grinding metal.
Male wearing safety glasses, grinding metal.

overcoming the challenges to build an effective employee wellness programme

Some employers in the manufacturing and logistics industry may overlook the benefits of employee wellness due to the challenges they face when implementing an employee wellness programme.

The truth is that employers in these industries do face some specific challenges when it comes to employee wellness initiatives. This doesn’t mean that employee wellness shouldn’t be a priority. It only means that your company may need to think outside the box for solutions.

Below is a look at some tips for overcoming the most difficult challenges high-pressure industries are facing in regard to employee wellness and stress management techniques.  

bring a level of flexibility to work schedules

According to our 2024 Randstad Workmonitor report, 43% of UK workers wouldn’t accept a job if it didn’t provide flexibility around working hours. Unfortunately, offering traditional flexible work schedules is not often possible for organisations that depend on employees working on-site and shifts to be filled. That doesn’t mean that you still can’t bring some form of flexibility to the workplace.

For instance, consider allowing employees to swap shifts or implement a fluctuating start time schedule. Some manufacturers are also turning to a four-day workweek to give their employees a free day to handle personal responsibilities.

Providing your workers more time off can also add a level of flexibility. However, you have to be prepared to let employees take time off when they need to, or the additional PTO will only create more frustration. Investing in cross-training can help you build agility into your workforce.

require frequent breaks

Standing and performing manual labour can be very taxing on your workers. Giving them scheduled breaks throughout the day can alleviate some of this stress and actually work to improve productivity. Studies show that frequent breaks in the workplace can boost wellbeing, employee engagement, job satisfaction and mental health — not to mention increase on-the-job performance and productivity.

Studies show that microbreaks can be effective at promoting overall wellbeing. However, these same studies reveal that these microbreaks showed very little benefits for workers with high-demand jobs. In these cases, 10-minute breaksproved to be more effective at boosting productivity than shorter ones.

hire contingent workers

One of the biggest challenges employers with high-pressure work environments face is the need to fill shifts to meet demand. Unfortunately, for manufacturing, these demands can shift frequently and without notice. It can be very difficult to approve paid time off and deal with absenteeism while still filling shifts.

A great way to overcome this challenge is to rely on temporary or contract workers. Maintaining a pool of prescreened temporary workers who you can call in as needed can help you fill shifts while still giving your workers the time off they need to deal with personal responsibilities.

Additionally, temporary workers can help you scale your workforce up and down as needed. This can lead to fewer layoffs and overtime hours. In turn, this can improve worker satisfaction, workplace morale and retention while helping your employees improve their overall wellbeing.

invest in employee training

While globally, most (52%) believe AI will lead to their own career growth and promotion rather than losing their job, the pressure of automation taking over so many menial tasks in the workplace has many workers concerned they may lose their jobs.

This added stress can hinder productivity and wellbeing and entice your best workers to look for other job options. You can avoid this exodus of workers by investing in employee training. Through mentorships, apprenticeships, reskilling and upskilling options, you can provide the skills your workers need to advance their careers or obtain new roles as their current jobs evolve.  

create a customised wellness programme

When it comes to high-pressure environments, each workplace can have its own sets of stressors and challenges. It’s important that you evaluate the state of your workers’ wellbeing. Use surveys and interviews to better understand where your workers may be struggling and what services may help them overcome these challenges.

For instance, you may want to determine how your employees are currently managing stress at work. If your workers are struggling in this area, you may want to invest in wellness initiatives, such as meditation or gym memberships, that deal with stress management in the workplace.

develop a positive workplace culture

As an employer with a high-pressure work environment, there may be little you can do to decrease some of these stressors. For example, if you operate a logistics company, you may not be able to change the fact that your drivers have to sit for hours at a time.

One thing you can change is the state of your workplace culture. You have the option of letting your employees turn their stress into a negative or even toxic environment or creating a positive one that promotes employee wellness.

When creating a positive workplace culture, it’s crucial that you take the time to listen to your employees. This step can allow you to fix issues that your workers may be facing. For instance, your workers may be upset about not being able to take paid time off or that they don’t get enough breaks during the day. These are issues that you can deal with almost immediately.

As you work with your employees to build a positive workplace culture, you can foster engagement and help your employees improve their wellbeing.

about the author
yashab giri new
yashab giri new

yeshab giri

chief commercial officer - staffing & RT professionals

yeshab is responsible for leading the development and expansion of randstad India’s value added staffing services which currently encompass field force, engineering and technology roles.

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