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Limiting and focusing as strategies for dealing with time and performance pressure

Project number: F 2406 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) Status: Completed Project

Description:

The project investigated how employees deal with time and performance pressure in a health-preserving way by means of case studies in five companies. A total of 45 employees from the service and knowledge work sectors were questioned in individual interviews.

Firstly, it was evident that employees try to avoid or reduce working in their leisure time, overtime and other forms of work expansion (limiting). Secondly, the respondents described the ways in which they achieve concentrated and time-equalized work under time and performance pressure (focusing at work). Whether limiting and focusing are successful depends not only on the individual employees, but also on their team, the organisation and the characteristics of their tasks.

Successful limiting and focusing were generally found by the employees to be positive for their personal well-being. This was particularly the case when these approaches contributed to a reduction in time and performance pressure, for example when the redistribution of work was successful, or when more time was available following the renegotiation of deadlines.

However, both approaches are not always seen as positive, especially when they have negative consequences for other employees, colleagues, managers or other interaction partners. If colleagues are required to work overtime or the availability of contact persons in the company is reduced, for example, limiting and focusing entail a potential for conflict, and can be associated with negative emotions of employees and an impairment of their well-being. Negative consequences such as these, however, often point to operational problems and structural shortcomings, such as insufficient staffing levels or unrealistic targets. Therefore, strategies of limiting and focusing must always be evaluated in the operational context and the prevailing social relationships at the workplace.

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