Anxiety in the workplace is becoming increasingly common, as shown by new research from the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). Rates of moderate to extreme anxiety and depression among employees have soared by 30.5% since records began in 2013. New data from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) also shows that, in 2017, around 526,000 workers in the UK suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety. In the same year, stress, depression and anxiety accounted for 40% of all work-related ill-health cases.
This is a huge, growing, problem for employers. How can you recognise the signs of anxiety in your employees? And how can you promote positive mental health in your workplace?
What is Anxiety?
Mind explains anxiety as “what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. It is a natural human response, however prolonged feelings of anxiety have a negative impact on people’s thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.”
Anxiety in the workplace may be caused by issues such as workload, performance or conflict with colleagues. Other factors, outside the workplace, may include relationship, family or debt problems, which will also affect an employee’s performance at work and attendance levels.
How can I support my staff?
Look out for signs that an employee is suffering from anxiety. These can include:
- taking more time off work
- becoming more emotional or over-reacting to what others say
- feeling negative, dwelling on negative experiences
- starting to behave differently, feeling restless and not being able to concentrate.
If you believe that a member of staff may be feeling increasingly anxious at work, address these issues as early as possible. You, or the employee’s Manager, should have a conversation in a private place with the employee, ensuring that there are no interruptions.
Ask open questions to find out how the person is honestly feeling, allowing them a lot of time to answer and not pushing them for a response. Try to put yourself in the others person’s position and see things from their perspective to get them to open up to you about any worries or fears. It’s also useful to make arrangements for a follow up meeting to review the situation.
Staff with good mental health are more likely to perform well, have good attendance levels and be engaged in their work. Take steps to support the mental health of your staff and start creating a workplace where they feel able to communicate safely and easily with their manager can help to reduce the impact of mental ill health in your business.
This could include
- identifying why you are committed to promoting positive mental health and what your objectives are
- planning a range of activities and key messages to educate staff and managers and remove any stigma associated with mental ill health.
- putting support processes in place for staff experiencing mental ill health, such as training managers in mental health and having named mental health champions in the workplace
- creating a mental health policy and reviewing existing policies
- ensuring that you and your senior managers champion mental health awareness and act as role models
Other ways you can support employees can be found on the Anxiety UK website.
If you need any help implementing these actions or have a problem with growing anxiety in workplace, contact me today to find out more