Many of us are likely to feel anxious or stressed at work occasionally, however, if your anxiety is constant or increasingly frequent you’re likely dealing with some degree of workplace anxiety.
It’s the International Week of Happiness at work from 20th to the 24th September 2021 and we want to make sure all workplaces are equipped to be the happiest they can be by tackling workplace anxiety.
What is workplace anxiety?
Workplace anxiety is different to generalised anxiety disorder as it is specifically related to the work environment. While the anxiety doesn’t have to occur in the workplace, workplace anxiety is caused by workplace triggers (e.g. you may feel workplace anxiety the evening before you go to work).
The causes and level of severity are different for each individual but in the most severe instances, workplace anxiety can be debilitating and stop employees from carrying out their duties.
What causes workplace anxiety?
There are many causes of workplace anxiety and the specifics will always vary by each person however some common causes of workplace anxiety include:
- Workplace bullying or discrimination
- Minimal or no support from managers
- Tough working conditions e.g. unsafe environment or long hours
- Lack of relationships with colleagues
- Fear of inadequacy or judgement
- Tight deadlines / overwhelming workload
- Lack of control over your work
Many people don’t seek help for anxiety soon enough for fear of judgement or because they feel their problem is not severe enough – it’s important to remember that regardless of the cause, your feelings are valid and just as deserving of support as anyone else’s.
What effect does workplace anxiety have?
Anxiety can be debilitating, but what does that mean for the workplace?
When someone is struggling with anxiety they may be less productive e.g. miss deadlines, produce lower quality work, or make mistakes that can be costly to the business.
Anxiety can also manifest itself physically and cause the employee to take more time off which also has financial and productivity implications for businesses – especially small to medium-sized organisations and teams.
Employees struggling with workplace anxiety for a prolonged time can become withdrawn and irritable – negatively impacting company culture and staff morale.
Many who struggle with anxiety, particularly when caused by a lack of confidence or feelings of inadequacy, may make career decisions based on these feelings and miss out on promotions or change their career path altogether.
How to manage workplace anxiety?
1. Look out for signs of anxiety
Knowing the signs of workplace anxiety can help you spot them in yourself and others so that you can make adjustments to your working life before the anxiety becomes more severe.
2. Undergo training on anxiety
Completing some basic training around anxiety can help you learn why it occurs, how to handle it and how to prevent it. Take a look at our self-paced online Understanding Anxiety course.
3. Implement mental health first aiders
Mental health first aiders (MHFA) are one of the best tools an organisation can use to spot, prevent and support those with workplace anxiety. A mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for any employees who want to discuss their mental health.
As well as being trained to talk to employees who reach out, mental health first aiders are also provided with the training to spot when someone in the business may be struggling with their mental health but not voicing it. This enables the first aider to make the first move and provide support to those employees who are struggling.
A mental health first aider can also help business leaders make their organisations more mental health-friendly e.g. identifying when working arrangements may need to change.
We offer a 2-day Mental Health First Aid Course that can be delivered online via Zoom, or face to face either in one of our settings, or your own workplace.
All funds from our Mental Health First Aid training course goes directly to our Headucation campaign – so by training a mental health first aider in your business, you’ll also be supporting children’s mental health for years to come!
4. Learn how to manage workplace anxiety
The more you can educate yourself and others to manage anxiety, the better the whole workplace can become. While dedicated individuals such as mental health first aiders can suggest support options, the decision to take action always lies with the person suffering from anxiety.
Some ways to self-manage anxiety are:
- Talk to colleagues
- Build relationships at work
- Treat mental and physical health the same
- Keep notes
- Make changes to accommodate your anxiety
- Set realistic deadlines
- Practice mindfulness
- Practice healthy habits
- Focus on facts
Read more about ways to deal with workplace anxiety
If you’re an employer, you need to ensure you are taking the appropriate action to support your staff with workplace anxiety. If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch with Shawmind for advice and ideas! Or, take the first step towards a happier workplace by signing up for one of our mental health training courses – all funds go towards Headucation to improve mental health for the next generation.
If you’re an employee, the sooner you can talk to your line manager or employer about your workplace anxiety the better. If you’re not confident yet, let us know who your employer is and we can reach out to them with our mental health training courses or Wellbeing Weather Check offer.