Jack William Edouard Heuer was born in 1932 in Bern, Switzerland, as great-grandson of Edouard Heuer, the original founder of TAG Heuer in 1860. He holds an Electrical Engineering degree and a master’s degree in production and management from the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich. During his student years he was very active in sports, mainly in skiing, as a member for several years of the Swiss University ski team. His fascination with sports would allow him, during his business life, to follow in the steps of his father and grandfather, who in the very early days of the firm, already developed time-pieces for sports applications.

For more than 150 years, TAG Heuer has faced down every challenge, and then pushed past it. By defying the time-honoured conventions of Swiss watchmaking, it has led it to ever higher levels of precision and performance. It makes its own rules, chooses its own path, never quits moving forward, never compromises and never cracks under pressure. In fact, #Don’tCrackUnderPresssure has become their motto, not only referring to the robust waterproof nature of their watches under depth pressure, but also representing reliability, a free-minded spirit and a defiance of convention. TAG Heuer has faced the stiffest competition from other reputable brands, economic downturns and an international shrinkage on the purchase of luxury items, but continues to survive. The CEO, Jean-Claude Biver, notes: “All those working at TAG Heuer channel all of their energy into offering long-lasting quality and innovation. Indeed, our future depends entirely on it”. Perhaps this is ‘the key’ to facing down every challenge and not cracking under pressure – the ability to harness the energy and skills of everyone and focus the same on worthwhile pursuits within the business. Everyone is thus offering a contribution of value – the feelings generated from this include pride, a sense of ownership and satisfaction – all important aspects of employee wellness.

It would seem that companies have a huge responsibility in providing the right environment to assist employees from cracking under pressure. Offering them value-adding and meaningful work within a trust environment certainly gives staff a sense of meaning, direction and hope. In the current unstable economic environment, employees are craving confident leadership – a leadership that is realistic, but hopeful; a leadership that gives direction, but listens well; a leadership that paints the vision with clarity, but understands the challenges faced by their followers. Employees need to be able to share their ideas freely and feel heard – they want to be part of the growth of the business. Meaningful engagement must be the daily maxim for all in management – a quest to tap into the combined creativity of the staff complement to enhance and secure the very future of the company for decades to come. The following leadership actions can assist with meaningful engagement and the development of an environment of wellness and productivity:

  1. Frequent communication connects – ‘on the floor’ dialogues, focused listening (no interruptions from the mobile – turn it off), corridor conversations, idea meetings, vision and value discussions, all should be facilitated. A ‘present’ leader that cares for the employees will engender trust.
  2. Removing obstacles – anything that stands in the way of offering your best and being productive. These could include issues like minimising bureaucracy, eliminating unnecessary reports/paperwork, enhancing and streamlining procedures, etc.
  3. Providing adequate resources and work tools – performance can be enhanced when people have the right tools to do the job. Scheduled maintenance avoids much frustration and downtime through preventing breakdowns and develops pride amongst employees.
  4. Support, encouragement and recognition – individualised care and recognition for discretionary effort encourage everyone and reinforce desired behaviour patterns.
  5. Unexpected reward – surprising employees with benefits and gifts on occasion, but particularly after huge effort and success, engenders a family spirit and warms employees towards the company and its leadership.

The chances of cracking under pressure are diminished when company leadership cares for the wellbeing of all employees. Care, coupled with meaningful engagement, fosters loyalty and provides employees with valuable opportunities to contribute. Psychological pressure is reduced when employees feel valued.