One of the key responsibilities of anyone in a leadership role is to ensure their team members are utilising their skills, strengths and abilities as best as they can.
When dealing with different personalities, a leader must be able to support people through difficult situations, which may include dealing with change, improving performance, and meeting deadlines or objectives.
Stress and anxiety is known to affect many people in the workplace. A study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health in America revealed that around 18.1% of the US population suffered some form of anxiety at work, with 22.8% of those cases being classified as “severe.”
Stress is caused when we react to a current situation whereas anxiety is what we experience when we react to an imagined negative event in the future.
As leaders, we don’t want our team members to experience anxiety while they are working, and it’s up to us to be aware of the costs of dealing with anxiety and offer solutions to manage it.
5 Reasons Why Anxiety at Work is Costly
- It will increase time off work. As we are emotional beings, when we start experiencing situations that causes high levels of negative emotions, we will be affected. This can lead to mental and physical illnesses, which may require us to take time away from work. As most businesses are stretched thin with their resources, not having workers be able to carry out their normal responsibilities will have an effect on a company’s bottom line.
- It will result in low engagement. When we experience high levels of stress and anxiety, it will affect our ability to concentrate and get things done. When we have low levels of focus, we’re easily distracted and will take a lot longer to complete tasks. An hour and a half of lost productivity a day is the equivalent of losing a whole day every week.
- It will result in high levels of staff turnover. The cost to replace an employee is high because it involves going through the rehiring and training processes. When employees are not in an environment where they feel safe or can be at their best, it’s very likely that they’ll look for other options.
- It will result in low morale and low team performance. Poor individual performance will lead to poor team performance. Once a team’s performance starts falling, it will need interventions such as additional training, mentoring or coaching to get the team to where they were or where they want to be. These are additional costs a business will have to incur.
- It will cause unnecessary conflict. When we don’t feel our best, we can get agitated easily, be irritable and behave in a way that is out of character. This can result in clashes with other team members and lead to unproductive behaviours. These all add to a company’s costs, which we, as leaders or managers, have to deal with.
What Can be Done to Manage Anxiety at Work
- Ask for help. We know when something is not right with us. If we allow ourselves to struggle through mental or emotional issues for long periods of time, it will be a lot harder and take a lot longer to overcome them. Most companies offer employee assistance programs, which can be used to get ourselves back on track.
- Learn more about yourself. The more self-aware we are, the better we’ll be able to deal with mental or emotional challenges. This can be done by attending seminars, enrolling in courses or reading self-help books.
- Avoid toxic or negative environments. We have to be more aware of what types of conversations we’re engaging in and whether they’re beneficial to us or not. Blaming, complaining or gossiping are examples of behaviours we should avoid.
- Establish good work habits. This may include taking regular breaks, moving our bodies more during our work day, communicating our needs and objectives clearly to our team members or colleagues, and planning our day better.
- Celebrate your wins. Oftentimes, we generate unnecessary stress or anxiety because we don’t feel we’re making progress or making a difference. Small accomplishments need to celebrated as much as the big wins. It can be as simple as responding to all our emails, making phones calls, helping out a colleague or asking for help.
As leaders, we have to do all we can to support our team members through any mental health challenges they may be facing. If we do, we will reduce our operating costs and improve our bottom line, along with creating a healthy work environment. If we don’t, our businesses will suffer the consequences of high levels of workplace stress and anxiety.
Question: What could be another reason why anxiety is costly at work and what can be done to manage it better?
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