Your employees don’t need to have a diagnosed anxiety disorder to be experiencing anxiety at work. When employees are showing symptoms of anxiety, it creates complications for both the employee and the company.
Workplace anxiety symptoms can include:
- Overreacting with co-workers or a manager
- Not completing projects due to fears of failure
- Feeling mentally paralyzed when trying to solve a problem and keep going around in cycles of indecision
- Limiting themselves only to work tasks they feel they can easily handle
- Difficulty having relationships with colleagues
- Not participating in meetings or on a team
- Difficulty making presentations
- Not taking leadership roles or taking on new projects
- Focusing too much on negative aspects of their job
What work environments can increase anxiety for employees?
Workplaces can really enhance an individual’s positive work flow state where problem solving comes easily, strong team cohesion is apparent, productivity is high, and innovation is developed. Workplaces can also leave an individual in a perpetual state of anxiety where communication is fractured, co-worker and managerial relationships are defective, decision making is frequently halted, and communication is difficult.
Workplaces that can increase anxiety include:
- Long work hours
- Conflicting expectations from leadership
- Poor compensation and benefits
- Lack of autonomy
- Manager or leadership have impossible expectations
- Employees not given the resources to do their job effectively
- Poor physical working environment
- Lack of direction from management
- Insufficient training
How can employers create an environment where anxiety can be decreased?
The most important thing an employer can do is when an employee is experiencing anxiety, the employee feels the company is approachable, responsive, and caring to an individual’s needs. Employers want to be prepared that when an employee is sharing concerns regarding anxiety, the organization is ready to handle these concerns.
When an employee approaches an organization about the anxiety they are experiencing, this conversation should take place in a private setting behind closed doors. When discussing the individual’s concerns, ask about how they are doing in general to get a bigger picture of what is going on. Be patient with employees when having these conversations because it is usually hard for individuals to share these concerns with an employer. Sometimes employees feel their employer may seem them as weak, incompetent, and not able to do their job. Give employees time to answer questions and try to see things from their perspective.
Employers should be prepared with resources to help employees with their anxiety, both in terms of outside resources and potential changes that can be made internally. External resources may include a referral to an employee assistance program, mental health professionals specializing in anxiety, stress management class, and promoting well-being programs throughout the company. Internal changes that have the potential to decrease anxiety include having employees change positions or certain aspects of their job, allowing more flexibility to work from home, supporting a healthy work/life balance, and increasing employee autonomy.
As an employer, do you have the knowledge and resources to help your employees who are experiencing anxiety on the job? Do you want your employees to feel supported and valued while they navigate finding solutions?