Anxiety in the workplace upsets employees and triggers stress. This has an enormous, negative impact on personal well-being and consequently on performance. What are the right strategies for managing workplace anxiety and what can employers do?
Anxiety in the workplace can drastically affect quality of life. Employees feel insecure, have difficulty concentrating, and feel constantly under pressure. Anxiety can have a negative impact on performance, quality of work, as well as relationships with teammates and supervisors.
There are many different reasons and causes for anxiety and insecurity. Often, deadlines and dealing with manipulative or complicated people are triggers for work-related stress. However, the required amount of work under time pressure can also lead to stress, or conflicts within the team. Unfortunately, tensions within a team can lead to a toxic environment within a short period of time if timely intervention and discussion are not implemented (source).
The pandemic also threw previously very stable people off track. Financial fears, fear of illness or fear of the future, have fueled new and unknown insecurities. Working from home has distanced us from the workplace and this has not necessarily helped, but rather led to distancing from colleagues at moments when this contact would have been important and valuable. Employees who now return to work often feel alone and also alienated. How can employers offer support and provide professional guidance in managing anxiety in the workplace?
Employers have a duty to their employees. They must take steps to promote the health, safety and well-being of their employees. They must ensure that the work environment is safe, and have an obligation to protect employees from discrimination. Especially in uncertain times like the current corona pandemic, clear messages are important to show how much the employer cares about mental well-being in this challenging situation. The work begins with educating employees and managers about mental illness and its challenges. Employers should foster a work environment that acknowledges mental health issues and supports those who are affected by them. At the same time, they should encourage employees to take advantage of available company resources, such as wellness offerings and employee assistance programs. This should include the creation of a comprehensive and personalized wellbeing plan to offer. If employees get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise and engage socially outside of work, their chances of reducing anxiety in the workplace are much greater.
At the same time, personal adjustments can also be considered for individuals who are affected. Be it changes in work area, work hours, home office, or even temporary relinquishment of tasks that are perceived as stressful and difficult.
When there is a solid personal relationship with the people in the office, it's easier to address issues. So, it's essential to foster team spirit and build stronger relationships among employees. Thus, investing in sustainable team-building also has a preventive effect against stress among team members. Employers should encourage employees to resolve conflicts among themselves and to be honest with their supervisors. While it may be intimidating, this helps build more solid relationships, improve communication and work more productively.
At a time when stress and anxiety are affecting more people than ever before, access to such services is a very tangible support that makes all the difference to employees.