Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 – Anxiety In The Workplace

With this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week being ‘anxiety’, we thought we’d shed a light on something which often goes unnoticed in the workplace. In today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments, it’s common for individuals to experience workplace anxiety. This persistent feeling of worry, fear, or unease can have a detrimental impact on employee well-being and overall productivity.

Workplace anxiety, as well as mental health issues such as stress and depression, are extremely common in the modern workplace. In fact, the HSE found that these conditions account for 50% of all work-related illnesses. It’s evident that anxiety within the workplace, as well as generally, can seriously affect the capacity to do your job.

We break down what exactly workplace anxiety is and how to manage it successfully from both an employer and employee perspective…

What Is Workplace Anxiety?

Workplace anxiety refers to the distress or apprehension experienced by individuals in response to work-related situations. It can manifest in various forms, such as excessive worry about performance, fear of criticism, difficulty making decisions, or social anxiety in the workplace. Common causes of workplace anxiety include high workloads, time pressures, job insecurity, poor communication, lack of support, and conflicts.

Workplace anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways, with common symptoms being:

  • A persistent sense of worry, apprehension, dread or hopelessness
  • Feeling trapped and unable to find a ‘way out’
  • Feeling fearful, paranoid and tense
  • Anger and impatience
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Panic attacks
  • Muscle tension
  • Fatigue

According to a survey carried out by Mental Health Org, nearly three-quarters of the population (73%) had felt anxious at least sometime in the previous two weeks. One in five people (20%) stated they felt anxious most or all the time. As well as this, nearly all young people (18- 24) in the research (86%) had felt anxious in the previous two weeks. For over half (58%), this had stopped them undertaking day-to-day activities.

Furthermore, the most reported cause in the research was being able to afford to pay bills. Those aged 35 to 64 were most anxious about finances.

Additionally, stigma and shame play a part in how people deal with their anxiety. Nearly half of the people in the survey (45%) were keeping their anxiety a secret.

How Can Employers Manage Anxiety In The Workplace?

Workplace anxiety can significantly impact both employees and employers, leading to decreased productivity and overall job satisfaction. By understanding workplace anxiety and implementing strategies from both the employer and employee perspective, organisations can cultivate a supportive and healthy work environment that fosters wellbeing, reduces anxiety, and promotes overall success.

This is exactly what we do here at Nordens, and we advise any company no matter how big or small to follow suit. Managing workplace anxiety is a collective effort that benefits everyone involved after all. Here are some steps for employers to manage anxiety in the workplace:

Promote A Healthy Work Environment

  • Foster a culture that values open communication, respect, and teamwork.
  • Encourage work-life balance by providing flexible work arrangements and promoting self-care practices.
  • Offer wellness programs, sessions, or resources that address stress management, mindfulness, and mental health support.

Enhance Communication & Support

  • Clearly communicate job expectations, roles, and responsibilities to reduce uncertainty.
  • Encourage regular feedback and recognition to boost employee confidence.
  • Provide opportunities for professional development and skill-building to enhance competence.

Reduce Workplace Stressors

  • Review workloads and ensure they are manageable, considering individual capabilities.
  • Promote effective time management techniques and prioritise tasks to minimise staff feeling overwhelmed.
  • Manage workplace conflicts promptly to reduce tension and anxiety.

Foster A Positive Work-Life Balance

  • Encourage breaks and discourage overworking.
  • Support employees in taking vacation or personal days to recharge.
  • Implement policies that discourage overworking
  • Encourage impromptu time off to focus on wellbeing.

How Can Employees Manage Anxiety In The Workplace?

Here are some pointers for employees of a company or organisation, to help manage anxiety in the workplace:

Recognise & Address Symptoms

  • Identify signs of workplace anxiety, such as persistent worry, irritability, difficulty concentrating, or physical symptoms like headaches or sleep disturbances.
  • Acknowledge your emotions and seek support from trusted colleagues, friends, or family members.

Practice Self-Care

  • Engage in stress-reducing activities outside of work, such as exercise, hobbies, or mindfulness practices.
  • Prioritise sleep, maintain a healthy diet, and establish a routine that promotes a positive mindset.

Develop Coping Strategies

  • Practice deep breathing exercises or meditation to manage anxiety in the moment.
  • Break tasks into smaller, manageable steps to alleviate feelings of overwhelmingness.
  • Develop effective time management techniques, including setting realistic goals and prioritising tasks.

Seek Support

  • Reach out to your supervisor, HR department, or employee assistance programs to discuss workplace challenges and potential solutions.
  • Consider seeking professional help, such as therapy or counselling, to develop long-term coping strategies.

We hope this has outlined what workplace anxiety is and how employers and employees can make a meaningful difference. If you’d like to know any further information on anything mentioned, or anything accounting related for that matter, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us at Nordens, where one of our trusted advisors would be happy talking you through your query.