Feeling fraught: how to manage workplace anxiety

Prioritising employee well-being within an organisation yields significant rewards: staff experience increased job satisfaction and productivity in this setting. Belynder Walia explains how to create a nurturing workplace environment

Developing policies that place mental health at the forefront isn’t merely a matter of compliance; it’s a strategic decision capable of transforming the very essence of your workplace. Such an approach nurtures a positive environment, fostering improved teamwork, creative problem-solving, and overall well-being. As leaders and managers, creating this environment is not just important – it’s indispensable. It requires going beyond legal obligations to establish a haven of empathy and support for the team.

Here are nine strategies for promoting a more anxiety-resilient and productive workplace.

Advocating for mental health resources

One of a leader’s most impactful actions is encouraging employees to utilise available mental health resources. While unmanaged anxiety can hinder productivity, it can become a remarkable source of strength when adequately supported. So, let’s champion programmes that help individuals cope with anxiety. It’s equally important to emphasise that having anxiety should not result in penalties or stigmatisation.

Educating the entire team

In this era where workplace anxiety seems to loom more prominently than ever, understanding is a cornerstone in reducing stigma and fostering inclusivity. Educating the entire workforce about anxiety and how it manifests is not just about awareness; it’s about holistically creating a workplace that acknowledges and supports its employees.

Equipping managers with mental health support skills

Managers are at the forefront of their teams and are pivotal in creating a supportive environment. Equipping them with the skills to support employees dealing with anxiety is not just a valuable asset; it’s a necessity. These skills encompass the ability to manage and empower those experiencing heightened stress or fear.

Enhancing communication

Anxiety often gives rise to confusion and self-doubt, which is why clear and concise communication is the bedrock of a productive and anxiety-friendly workplace. Providing written communication to outline project details and expectations reduces ambiguity and ensures everyone is on the same page.

Breaking goals into smaller steps

Big, looming long-term goals can be incredibly overwhelming for individuals struggling with anxiety. Encouraging your team to break down projects into smaller, manageable tasks can be a game-changer. This approach allows individuals to experience a sense of accomplishment at each step and minimises the overwhelming feeling of impending doom.

Developing personalised action plans

Every individual’s journey with anxiety is unique. To harness the strength within concern, creating personalised action plans is imperative. These plans should meticulously outline specific triggers, expectations, and strategies for dealing with stress. Empowering your employees with these personalised tools allows them to navigate their anxiety and use the resources proactively.

Prioritising positive feedback

Positive feedback and reassurance can act as powerful motivators. Cultivating a culture of constructive feedback and unwavering support is not just about empathy; it’s a strategic decision. It encourages employees to reach out for help when needed, fostering a sense of security within the workplace.

Fostering mentorship and peer support

Assigning mentors or peers to employees dealing with anxiety can be a transformative step. These mentors are instrumental in helping individuals recognise their achievements, celebrate their successes and provide much-needed guidance. This support can significantly boost confidence, resilience and career progression.

Encouraging innovation

Anxiety, when managed correctly, can act as a catalyst for exceptional problem-solving skills. It often stems from a heightened awareness of potential issues, making individuals adept at identifying problems and finding innovative solutions. This is why encouraging open discussions and brainstorming sessions where every idea is valued and explored is essential.

Managing anxiety as a strength within the workplace represents a profound shift in perspective. It’s about viewing anxiety not as an obstacle but as a force to be channelled for the betterment of the team and the organisation. This transformation promotes a culture of inclusivity and compassion, sending a powerful message to employees that their challenges are acknowledged and valued. This cultural shift can increase the workforce’s loyalty, morale and well-being. When people are encouraged to voice their concerns and ideas, employees with anxiety can contribute to more robust decision-making processes.

Ultimately, this approach leads to greater productivity. Employees develop personalised action plans and break down tasks into manageable steps, making them more effective and efficient. With an improved sense of accomplishment, they are more likely to stay engaged and motivated, even when faced with demanding projects. It’s not just about managing anxiety; it’s about leveraging it as a source of strength for the individual and the organisation.

Belynder Walia is the author of Fix Me: How To Manage Anxiety And Take Control Of Your Life. She is a dedicated psychotherapist, author and speaker and is on a mission to foster inner harmony through the power of self-relationship and emotional empowerment. Her profound insights and guidance spark transformative growth, ultimately promoting resilience and well-being. In her book, she shares her expertise to inspire people to manage anxiety and take control of their life; find out more at https://www.serenelifestyles.com/

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