How to manage anxiety in the workplace

Anxiety is commonly linked with workplace stress, and can have a huge impact on your employees’ physical and emotional wellbeing. As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week (12-18 May), and this year’s theme is ‘Anxiety’; we’ve put together some useful tips for what employers can do to help people manage anxiety in the workplace for improved wellbeing. Anxiety

Anxiety – The Facts:

Stress comes from the pressures we often have to deal with in life such as work, family, finances and other demanding, everyday tasks. Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and is triggered by a fear of these pressures. This fear can overcome all other emotions making a person feel uncomfortable, nervous and sometimes scared. Many of us may have experienced feelings of anxiety at some point, and it can affect us all in different ways and at different times. But what can begin as a simple worry, can quickly develop into something more serious, like a panic, phobia or obsessive disorder.

According to mentalhealth.org.uk, each year 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression; and this figure is growing, with 8.2 million people diagnosed with anxiety in 2010 alone. As well as the emotional impact this has upon people, there is also a huge economic cost of mental illness, which costs around £105bn a year – equivalent to the entire NHS budget (nhs.uk). Not only that, but the financial cost to UK businesses for absence, lost productivity and early retirement equates to a £10.1bn a year loss to the economy (mentalhealth.org.uk). With figures like these – anxiety is an issue that should be taken seriously.

So what techniques can you use to manage anxiety in the workplace?

1. Identify the problem

Anxiety and stress are closely linked. Identifying what makes your employees feel stressed; and the physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms associated with these stressful events is the first step in helping to manage the feelings of anxiety that your employees may be experiencing.

2. Get your workplace involved

Your company can make a huge difference by engaging your employees to identify and reduce their anxiety. Whether it is distributing educational leaflets and posters in the workplace, or actively encouraging employees to think about their own anxiety levels via an internal e-bulletin or newsletter and letting them know where they can get support if they need it. Raising awareness and getting involved will enable your company to take a proactive step towards helping employees deal with their feelings of anxiety.

3. Encourage open discussion

The key to reducing the stigma around mental health is to be open and talk about it. Many people may feel embarrassed about suffering from anxiety, and especially at work, not wanting to give the impression they are ‘buckling under pressure’. It could be worthwhile supporting your employees by giving them access to an ‘Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)’ to help them manage their anxiety, stress and other life issues. This can have a number of benefits – the employee will feel supported by the company and at the same time learn ways to improve their wellbeing from a trusted and confidential source.

As you can see, anxiety is not something to be ignored or to be embarrassed about. Employers can take some simple steps to support their workers who may be suffering from anxiety in an open and honest way.

Asset from Sovereign Health Care is a comprehensive employer paid cash plan that includes access to a leading ‘Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)’ which in turn provides confidential support, assistance and counselling; helping employees  deal with a range of life events and issues including stress and anxiety. Asset also pays employees tax free cash back towards the costs of staying fit and healthy and with three levels of cover, gives you the flexibility to mix and match cover to suit your business needs. To find out more click here, or contact us and a member of the team will be happy to answer any questions you might have.