Health Assured team

11 April 2023

For individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the workplace can present unique challenges. Trying to manage the intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviours in a professional setting can be overwhelming.

However, with the right strategies and support, employees with OCD can manage their symptoms and thrive in their careers. In this article, we'll share five practical tips that can help employees with OCD to navigate the workplace.

What is obsessive compulsive disorder?

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a serious mental health condition. It’s an anxiety-related conditions; and its symptoms can range in intensity. It can be diagnosed through a variety of signs, each differing through individual situations. There are two types of OCD conditions which people suffer from; these include:

Obsessive thoughts

People experience obsessive thoughts and unwanted worries, which may occur regularly. These thoughts can often be frightening, intimidating, and anxiety-inducing. Common traits of OCD thoughts include:

  • Intrusive thoughts.
  • Aggressive or violent thoughts.
  • Obsessive thoughts about health.
  • Obsessive thoughts involving relationships.

Compulsive behaviours

People may experience urges to repeat actions or routines, sometimes without rationale. These can be physical actions or mental rituals. But both are used to help fight against obsessive thoughts or actions. Common signs of OCD behaviours include:

  • Rechecking things, like locks, doors, and bodily reactions.
  • Hoarding or rearranging objects.
  • Constantly cleaning things or washing hands.
  • Repeating mental acts.
  • Incessantly seeking reassurance.

5 tips to manage OCD in the workplace 

  1. Set realistic goals and prioritise tasks.

Living with OCD can be challenging, especially when it comes to managing symptoms in the workplace. One of the most important things you can do as an employee with OCD is to set realistic goals and prioritize tasks. This will help you to stay focused, organized, and productive, while also minimizing stress and anxiety.

You can start by breaking down your workload into manageable tasks. This could involve creating a to-do list or using a project management tool to track your progress. Once you have a clear idea of what needs to be done, prioritise tasks based on their importance and urgency. By setting achievable goals and prioritizing tasks, you'll be able to stay on track and manage your OCD symptoms more effectively.

  1. Create a structured routine.

For many individuals with OCD, structure and routine can be incredibly helpful in managing symptoms. Creating a structured routine can help you to stay organized, reduce stress, and minimize the impact of intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

Start by establishing a consistent schedule for your workday. This could involve setting specific times for tasks like checking emails, attending meetings, and working on projects. You might also find it helpful to establish rituals or routines around specific tasks, such as organizing your workspace or taking a short break every hour.

  1. Communicate with colleagues and managers.

As an employee with OCD, it's important to communicate openly and honestly with your colleagues and supervisors. While it can be challenging to talk about your symptoms, doing so can help you to access the support and accommodations you need to succeed in the workplace.

Start by identifying a trusted colleague or supervisor who you feel comfortable talking to. This person can serve as a confidant and advocate, helping you to communicate your needs and access resources like therapy or workplace accommodations.

  1. Utilise coping mechanisms and stress-reducing techniques

Living with OCD can be stressful, especially in the workplace. That's why it's important to have a variety of coping mechanisms and stress-reducing techniques at your disposal.

One stress-reducing techniques that can be helpful for individuals with OCD include mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques can help you reduce stress and stay focused, even in the midst of intrusive thoughts or compulsive behaviours.

  1. Seek professional help

When seeking professional help or accommodations, it's important to be proactive and assertive. Don't be afraid to advocate for your needs and communicate clearly with your employer or healthcare provider. By taking an active role in managing your OCD symptoms, you'll be better equipped to succeed in the workplace.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is one type of therapy often effective for individuals with OCD. CBT can help you to identify and challenge negative thought patterns, reduce anxiety, and manage compulsive behaviours. If you're struggling with OCD symptoms in the workplace, consider seeking out a therapist who specializes in CBT.


Managing OCD symptoms in the workplace can be challenging, but with the right strategies and support, it's possible to thrive in your career. By setting realistic goals, creating a structured routine, communicating with colleagues and supervisors, utilizing coping mechanisms and stress-reducing techniques, or seeking out professional help and accommodations, you can start to manage your symptoms and achieve your professional goals.

Remember, you don't have to manage your OCD symptoms alone. By accessing the resources and support available to you, you can succeed in the workplace and improve your work-life balance.

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