Dealing with workplace anxiety can be very challenging. The harder you try to get yourself out of an anxiety loop, the deeper you find yourself in it.
Nearly 40 million adults between 18-54 worldwide have suffered from an anxiety disorder at some stage in their working life. In January, the number of people experiencing anxiety in work increased by 240% from the previous year. While a survey conducted in September this year by TalkOut presents over half of workers living with anxiety have not had access to mental health support. So how might you as an employer be able to manage an employee with anxiety?
What Causes Workplace Anxiety?
Anxiety is different from workplace stress. Stress is often onset by deadlines and juggling demanding tasks at work, however, anxiety can feel like life is out of control. Anxiety in the workplace is often caused by:
- Heavy workloads
- Poor management (lack of communication, micro-managing)
- Long working hours
- Lack of autonomy
- Conflicts with colleagues
Workplace anxiety is a growing problem for many workers, in a variety of different sectors. There are steps individuals can take to support how they are feeling and reduce their feelings of anxiety, however it is really important for employers to support those with anxiety too.
In doing so, employees are less likely to experience work-related mental ill-health leading to a happier, more productive workforce.
Here are some ways you can manage an employee with anxiety:
Create A Friendly Environment
The atmosphere in our work environment can often dictate the mood amongst employees. Toxic work environments can fast become breeding grounds for anxiety and depression and can often stem from being surrounded by bad attitudes or disorganised workspaces. Ultimately, if an employer is using negative language or adopts a bad attitude while at work, employees may unknowingly endorse the same unsavory behaviours.
To create a warm and friendly environment, lead by example in being supportive and positive. Employers can strive, along with employees, to maintain a clean and organised place for everyone to work in.
Have An Open Door Policy
Many who experience anxiety at work fear talking to a manager and opening up about how they feel to then find themselves with exasperated symptoms. However, employees should feel comfortable speaking with their employer about issues they are facing at work.
Be able to speak openly about personal issues fosters a community-led workplace that will not only encourage each other, but will be better equipped for future concerns that may arise.
Adopt a Confidentiality Policy
Once an employee opens up about any concern of theirs, whether physical or mental, it is really important employers ensure any information on the matter is kept strictly confidential. Unless you believe the individual or someone is in danger.
Talking about how we feel can come with challenges for a lot of us, and trust is an important element of this. Ensure all conversations with anyone about their mental health is done in a private and comfortable space and consider the employees’ well being throughout the entire process.
When managing an employee with anxiety, it is okay for you to make a plan outlining what you expect of them during that time. This will prevent a breakdown in communication and will help them to manage their anxiety with the correct measures for them, and for you.
Anxiousness and depression comes in waves for all of us, some days will be worse than others. With this in mind, it is really important for employers to adopt a flexible working style. An employee suffering with anxiety may require additional time for assignments or need small adjustments to be made in their workload or hours.
In order for this to be kept under control, however, is to ensure employers communicate flexibility is to be done on a limited basis. Flexibility can be managed by maintaining a good level of communication to ensure the individual is applying their best efforts to get up to speed and back to normal soon.
Provide Constructive Feedback
Feedback is really important in the workplace, however, criticism is not. Providing additional constructive feedback to an employee suffering with anxiety helps them to better manage their goals and expectations.
In some cases, regular reviews can also lead to increased anxiety. Therefore, it is especially important as an employer you focus on what the individual is doing well in, and provide support in areas of improvement.
Support is your biggest ally in ensuring employees are happy and comfortable at work. Showing concern and approaching situations with caution and understanding creates a safe environment. Supporting an employee with anxiety has a significant impact on their attitude towards work and how they perform.
Whilst the conversation around mental health is gradually becoming de-stigmatised, words without action are irrelevant. This advice can help employers and businesses demonstrate the care and attention they give to the well being of their employees. By taking better care of our mental health we’re able to perform better in work and see an increase in overall job satisfaction.
At Everymind, we are on a mission to normalise the conversations around mental health at work. Our tailored content is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at your employees’ fingertips to help with their mental well being. We’re currently offering a 3-month free trial, with no obligation to sign thereafter. Find out more here.