Managing someone with anxiety at work

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Health Assured team

06 January 2020

Anxiety is a feeling of restlessness and unease caused by fear, nervousness, worry or increased instances of stress. With over 8.2 million reported cases of anxiety in the UK in 2013, it’s one of the more common emotional disorders. And when left unaddressed, it can develop into other underlying conditions such as depression.

While it’s normal for everyone to experience cases of increased stress, when this feeling remains constant and harder to control, it can start to affect daily life.

In the workplace, managing someone with anxiety requires education on anxiety disorders as well as its symptoms, effects and causes.

When an employee can’t work due to anxiety, according to UK regulations, they may be entitled to receive employment and support allowance (ESA).

At Health Assured, we offer a 24/7 anxiety counselling service as part of our employee assistance programme (EAP). Contact the team for immediate support with employees experiencing anxiety. Call us free on 0844 892 2493.

This piece explores the steps you can take to help an employee dealing with anxiety.

Managing anxiety at work

Anxiety is much more than feeling stressed. It’s when the feeling of anxiousness doesn’t go away even after the situation that causes it is over. It should then come as no surprise some employees may be unable to work due to anxiety.

Organisations tend to perform better when their staff are healthy both physically and mentally. One of the ways to achieve this is to provide effective support to employees dealing with anxiety at work.

By supporting your staff members when they experience mental health problems, as well as retaining valuable staff and saving on the cost of hiring new staff members, you’re also sending a message to other employees about your organisation’s values.

In the UK, there aren’t any regulations related to disclosing anxiety issues to an employer. However, doing so can help you to provide them with appropriate support to ensure their recovery.

Once disclosed, there are many ways to manage anxiety at work. The first and most important thing is to create a culture that encourages your staff to be open about their mental health.

This step is essential to eliminate the stigma attached to ill mental health. Make sure you’ve established a company culture that puts employees’ health and wellbeing at the forefront of everything it does.

To achieve this, your staff must understand their mental health matters as much as their physical health.

Consider putting a mental health strategy and policies in place, one that provides them with support when needed—as opposed to discriminating against them.

Other ways to manage anxiety at work include:

  • Training managers and supervisors to recognise the symptoms of anxiety and identify the triggers that cause them. Once trained, encourage them to implement an open-door policy. As well as creating a communicative culture, it also creates a welcoming environment where employees feel confident enough to talk about their mental health without fear of repercussions.
  • The mere act of listening goes a long way to resolving the feeling of unease an employee may have about their work or personal lives. It’s important to remember to be sympathetic and understanding as it goes a long way to helping them feel heard. Encourage them to speak about how their anxiety is preventing work and together with them, come up with reasonable adjustments that’ll help to resolve this. Examples of how anxiety can prevent work include reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, lack of concentration, increased conflicts with co-workers, etc.
  • When they’re unable to work due to anxiety, consider allowing flexible working options. As well as being an obligation by law in the UK, it’s proven to increase productivity and efficiency levels among employees.
  • By ensuing workloads are manageable and realistic, you’re eliminating the negative effects of stress caused by excessive pressures. As well as managing anxiety, it goes a long way to increase productivity, reduce turnover as well as the chances of human error.
  • Conduct regular performance reviews to address issues stemming from anxiety over work performance. With it, employees can understand what they’re doing well and how it contributes to the success of the business. They can also help to identify where concerns lay and how to address them.
  • Encourage cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help with issues relating to stress, depression, and anxiety.

How to support employees with Anxiety

Our Employee Assistance Programme provides guidance and supports your employees with anxiety and general mental health. We can help you create a safe, productive workspace that supports all.

We support employees mental wellbeing with any problems they might be facing in their professional or personal lives with our 24-hour counselling helpline.

For every £1 invested in an employee assistance programme, organisations can expect to see, on average a 10x return on investment.

Find out more about EAPs



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