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Workplace Anxiety

Workplace Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, and Management

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Are you getting stressed at your workplace? Workplace stress is normal and everyone feels it because of the workload and other issues. However, persistent stress is worrisome as it steps out from the definition of workplace stress and enters into the definition of workplace anxiety. The feelings at work that push you away from normal living are usually identified as an anxiety disorder. Anxiety in the workplace does not spare anyone and the employees are worryingly impacted by the anxiety. Workplace anxiety can even influence career decisions. Statistics reveal that 3 out of every 5 professionals experience workplace anxiety.

This article answers the question of what is workplace anxiety and also discovers how common this issue is. It has also incorporated the causes of workplace anxiety, workplace anxiety symptoms, Gen Z workplace anxiety, consequences of workplace anxiety, and how to deal with workplace anxiety.

Key Takeaways

  • Workplace anxiety is a widespread issue, with 60% of employees experiencing mild symptoms and 25% showing clinically relevant symptoms.
  • Factors contributing to workplace anxiety include high expectations, job insecurity, extra working hours, lack of support, and balancing work-life demands.
  • Gen Z employees are particularly affected, with 91% of those aged 18-24 reporting workplace stress due to rising inflation, pandemic effects, and job market pressures.
  • Symptoms of workplace anxiety vary, including constant worry, social withdrawal, headaches, fatigue, and diminished work performance.
  • Effective management of workplace anxiety involves supportive practices, mental health resources, fostering inclusivity, and addressing specific stressors.

What is Workplace Anxiety?

First of all, we need to know what is workplace anxiety. A state of mind that is future-oriented rather than staying in the present is often worried about happenings that are yet to come. This state of mind is characterized as anxiety. If the worries are related to the workplace then it is workplace anxiety.

Workplace anxiety comprises feelings of nervousness, tension about work, apprehensiveness, or any other problem related to work. An employee facing workplace anxiety is often occupied in worrying about a thousand issues from his performance in his job to his economic well-being and relationships with colleagues. Workplace anxiety needs to be addressed at its earliest otherwise it might become problematic for the person even outside of work.

After discussing what is workplace anxiety, it is important to see how common is workplace anxiety. According to the Workplace Health Report, every year the consequences of workplace anxiety on the United Kingdom workers are given by the professionals at Champion Health. The report of Champion Health published in 2023 revealed that 60 percent of employees at workplaces experience anxiety symptoms of mild intensity. While 25 percent of the employees experience symptoms that are clinically relevant. The experiment was performed on over 4,000 anonymous people from the workforce belonging to different sectors and demographics. The results are shocking and reflect how common is workplace anxiety.

What Causes Workplace Anxiety?

There are many causes of workplace anxiety. An insight on workplace anxiety is given by Darcy E. Gruttadaro who declared anxiety disorders to be the most prevalent mental health problem in the United States. Gruttadaro, the director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health at the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, says “It’s not uncommon for people to feel nervous about a big presentation, meeting with clients, or working directly with senior leaders. Anxiety disorders involve more extreme, often crippling, and persistent levels of fear, apprehension, and worry.”

The dilemma is that the employers, managers, and co-workers do not even realize that a person is facing workplace anxiety. While the causes of workplace anxiety vary from person to person. Gruttadaro identified a few causes effective for some people including high stress, extra working hours, absence of support from colleagues and managers, or any other likewise factor.

Some other causes of workplace anxiety can include voicing opinions in meetings, delivering speeches, setting and achieving targets, handling workplace challenges, attending gatherings, team lunches, and company events, and maintaining personal connections.

Workplace Anxiety Symptoms

Workplace anxiety manifests differently for each person, with symptoms varying widely among individuals. This workplace anxiety encompasses multiple dimensions, such as psychological, social, and physical aspects, but these dimensions can present uniquely in every individual. For some, psychological symptoms might include constant worry or feelings of inadequacy, while others might experience social symptoms like difficulty interacting with colleagues or avoiding workplace events. Physical symptoms can also vary, ranging from headaches and fatigue to more severe issues like panic attacks. Each person’s experience with workplace anxiety is unique, making it essential to understand and address it on a case-by-case basis.

Some other recognizable workplace anxiety symptoms include disconnection from job responsibilities, heightened irritability, noticeable exhaustion, reduced vitality, decreased productivity, declined efficiency, diminished enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities, and difficulty maintaining concentration and attention. Most importantly, the changed behavior patterns of an employee indicate a shift in his mental condition.

Gen Z Workplace Anxiety

Workplace anxiety among Gen Z employees is a growing concern, reflecting the unique challenges this generation faces in the professional environment. Factors contributing to this anxiety include high expectations, job insecurity, and the pressure to succeed in a rapidly changing job market. The recent impact of rising inflation and the lingering effects of the pandemic have further exacerbated these challenges, adding financial stress and health-related concerns to the mix. According to the Cigna International Health survey of 2023, 91 percent of employees who are reported of being stressed at the workplace belong to the age group of 18-24 years.

Gen Z workers often struggle with balancing work-life demands, navigating new technologies, and adapting to evolving workplace cultures. This anxiety can manifest in various ways, such as feelings of overwhelm, difficulty concentrating, social withdrawal, and physical symptoms like headaches or fatigue. Addressing Gen Z workplace anxiety requires a comprehensive approach, including supportive management practices, mental health resources, and fostering an inclusive and flexible work environment.

Consequences of Workplace Anxiety

Workplace anxiety is a mental state that not only has an impact on the mental health of an employee but also negatively influences physical health. The well-being of an employee also impacts the organization. If the employees are at risk then eventually organization will have to bear the cost. Research by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has also found similar results stating that more than half of the work-related sickness absentees are because of stress, depression, and anxiety.

Another research by Champion Health found that 1 in 5 employees complains of a decline in work productivity because of mental well-being as workplace anxiety contributes to an increased level of absenteeism. The ultimate reaction to this appears in the form of staff turnover as people start resigning and switching jobs when they face workplace anxiety at their workplace.

How to Deal with Workplace Anxiety

  1. Supporting Co-workers and Employees

You can help your co-workers to deal with workplace anxiety if you observe any of them facing it. The first effort can be to maintain open, regular, and clear conversations with them. You can indirectly educate them about anxiety-related topics to reduce their burden like expectation, workload, or general work productivity.

Another effort could be to give more autonomy to your employees to make them feel less stressed by feeling controlled. The autonomy to control their workload can make them fulfill your expectations.

Thirdly, the causes of workplace anxiety need to be discovered and managed. Workplace anxiety and stress are interlinked. So, if you find out the stressors of your employee or co-worker that are related to work then any significant step can be taken to deal with workplace anxiety.

Being an employee, you can ask the employee about any reasonable workplace adjustment that is irritating him. You can support your employee by changing his work practices to bring betterment in the work performance. Workplace adjustments are not only associated with the well-being of physical health but also have impacts on mental health. You can give special care and importance to such employees who complain of facing workplace anxiety and working closely with them might help you discover the stressors.

Lastly, an employer can help his employees deal with workplace anxiety by discovering the workplace challenges they face. Challenges can include any pressure the workforce faces due to differences in demographics, or any other commitment. This is a crucial step before implementing anxiety-reduction initiatives.

  1. Managing Workplace Anxiety Yourself

Every employee has to deal with workplace anxiety to perform productively while maintaining a work-life balance. The primary need is to take on healthy life habits. You need to get enough sleep, exercise, eat clean and healthy food, and cut off caffeine, smoke, and alcohol. This will help your body and mind to stay healthy and productive.

Another effort for managing workplace anxiety yourself is honesty in committing to projects. You should only take those projects which you have the time and energy to do. Overburdening yourself with projects, tasks, and assignments can negatively impact your mental and physical health.

You have to set boundaries for work and have to manage time and skills to complete tasks at work rather than bringing them home. Do not work consistently without taking breaks instead consider relaxing in between. And when you accomplish one project you should celebrate it and acknowledge people who helped you hit your goal.

If you are facing workplace anxiety symptoms, do not hesitate to ask for help by communicating this to the manager. You can also discuss this with a friendly and trustworthy co-worker who can comfort you. But to do this you need to educate yourself of the visible signs and symptoms of workplace anxiety.

Conclusion

Workplace anxiety is a significant issue distressing a large portion of the workforce, with unique challenges for each individual, particularly Gen Z employees. Understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and implementing effective management strategies are crucial steps in addressing this pervasive problem. Supportive management practices, mental health resources, and adopting a flexible and inclusive work environment are indispensable in mitigating the effects of workplace anxiety. By taking proactive measures, both employers and employees can create a healthier, more productive workplace.

Frequently Asked Questions About Workplace Anxiety

  1. What is workplace anxiety?

Workplace anxiety is a state of mind characterized by nervousness, tension, and apprehension about work-related issues, often involving constant worry about future events and performance.

  1. What are the main causes of workplace anxiety?

Key causes include high stress, extra working hours, lack of support from colleagues and managers, job insecurity, high expectations, and the pressure to balance work-life demands.

  1. How common is workplace anxiety?

According to the Champion Health report of 2023, 60% of employees experience mild anxiety symptoms, while 25% experience clinically relevant symptoms, indicating a widespread issue.

  1. How does workplace anxiety affect Gen Z employees?

Gen Z employees face unique challenges, including high expectations, job market pressures, and the impact of rising inflation and the pandemic, with 91% reporting workplace stress.

  1. How can employers support employees with workplace anxiety?

Employers can support employees by maintaining open communication, providing mental health resources, offering autonomy, and addressing specific workplace stressors.

  1. What are the psychological symptoms of workplace anxiety?

Psychological symptoms include constant worry, feelings of inadequacy, and persistent fear, which can affect an employee’s mental well-being and productivity.

  1. What are the consequences of workplace anxiety if left untreated?

Untreated workplace anxiety can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, higher staff turnover, and overall negative impacts on both the employee’s and the organization’s well-being.

  1. What are the physical workplace anxiety symptoms?

Physical symptoms can range from headaches and fatigue to more severe issues like panic attacks, affecting an employee’s overall health and work performance.

  1. How can employees manage workplace anxiety themselves?

Employees can manage anxiety by adopting healthy habits, setting realistic project commitments, maintaining work-life boundaries, and seeking support from managers or co-workers.

  1. Why is it important to address workplace anxiety early?

Early involvement is crucial as it prevents anxiety from intensifying and affecting an individual’s personal and professional life, ensuring better mental health and productivity.

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