Top Reasons for Workplace Anxiety

All too often, work and anxiety go hand in hand. Even in the best of jobs, there are looming deadlines to that passionate project you have been working on for months. Deadlines, staff management, dealing with problems, and coworker relationships are among the top reasons for workplace anxiety as reported by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. When you are a person with an anxiety disorder, workplace anxiety can be an insurmountable mountain to tackle. If the workplace environment is not providing stress and anxiety management, working through the anxiety can be even more overwhelming. Many times, workplace anxiety is something employees cannot control as in the case of unclear policies or processes, a difficult coworker or a muddied company mission.   

Co-worker relationships and staff management are two of the top reasons given by the study for creating workplace anxiety. We have all heard it said that “You can only change yourself”.  John M. Grohol, Psy.D. reminds us that “Some people spend inordinate amounts of time and energy upset, angry, or frustrated by other people’s thoughts and behaviors”. We all know someone like this in the workplace, perhaps it is even you. Before anxiety management, I know it was me. Dr. Grohol’s statement reminded me of a Zig Ziglar story, about a woman who begged Zig to help her with workplace anxiety. After hearing Zig’s story, I realized that my complaining was NEVER going to change anyone. I began to ask myself what I could do to manage my anxiety and frustration in my workplace. With deep self-discovery, I began to see my self growing as a person, leader and coworker.

Managing Workplace Anxiety with Integrity

Over time, I became comfortable managing my workplace anxiety. Fear did not rule my world and something awesome began to happen within me. Courage, integrity and values began to develop. When fear rules your world, these characteristics hide deep down inside your being. I built an amazing support team. My coach, Sherry, kept assuring me I had greatness inside, my CEO and mentor, David, continued to develop me for leadership and a support group of strong women influencers were always available by phone and remind me that “You got this”. My motto is, “Find your direction in your quiet”. When I get quiet, I listen. When I listen, I am not doing the talking or complaining. The focus is not on me but the task at hand. If there is no task, then it is ALWAYS a teaching moment.  

As my confidence and leadership capabilities grew, I learned when to speak up and when to remain quiet and listen. Sometimes listening is hearing what people are saying. Many times, listening means to take everything in and visualize the BIG picture. For those of us with anxiety disorders, often, listening is simply waiting for the raging noise inside our bodies to get quiet.  Workplace anxiety often requires us to speak up and contribute vital information to the anxiety management conversation. Fear of retaliation can stop us. Sometimes, management does not give us the opportunity to contribute this vital information. We then have a choice. Do we purposefully create this opportunity, or do we wait for the possible opportunity to present itself? If you have spent enough time in quiet, asking God to recognize teachable moments and praying for guidance, you will recognize exactly what the right thing is to do.

How to Speak up during Workplace Anxiety

Here is the key to know when to speak up in an anxiety workplace situation. Ask yourself, “will the information you want to contribute to management: (1) possibly create results that is best for the whole company or just results easier for you? (2) Will the information you want to communicate make a definite difference in a management decision or will it just make you feel better that you have been heard? (3) Are you confident that the information is factual or is it rumor or gossip? (4) Would withholding the information you know hurt an innocent person or just ensure no retaliation against you? True leaders know when to speak up to ease workplace anxiety. When vital information is delivered with integrity, professionalism and honesty, there are no negative results.

I am not saying you won’t have immediate repercussions, but I am saying that God is giving you a teachable moment preparing you for greater opportunities if they happen. When I was in the corporate world, my coworkers and I were experiencing high levels of workplace anxiety due to both coworker relationships and staff management. I practiced integrity and patience waiting for the right opportunity to contribute important information to management. It never came. My quiet times made me realize that the best thing to do is to plan my exit strategy. When everything was in place, I created the opportunity to speak to  upper management. I was ready to answer specific questions if asked. Instead, I was let go. Because I had listened to my quiet, planned for consequences and spoke up after creating an opportunity, I knew I had done the RIGHT thing.

Did I handle the whole process with grace? Heck no. But at the end of the day, I did my best and I had the right intentions. I practiced quiet and patience, prayed and sought guidance with all the courage, integrity, and professionalism I had inside me. I did the right thing and I was able to sleep that night without any fear. God had a plan for me and I am a million times happier. Months later, the opportunity presented itself for me to speak up, contribute and give honest, vital information as the situation escalated. I don’t know what happened and I will not focus on it as it is not a part of my life now. Being Coach Delisa and coaching people with anxiety disorders is my focus. Continuing to manage my anxiety disorder and finding my direction in my quiet with integrity, professionalism and grace is my purpose.

Managing Workplace Anxiety from the Top Down

Workplace anxiety is common with astonishing statistics available. As I researched the topic, “Employers managing workplace anxiety and anxiety disorders and other mental health conditions” I realized that there is so much more work to do. I invite Human Resource departments (HR) and upper management to start the workplace anxiety management conversation. I encourage policies and clear, nonthreatening procedures be implemented and communicated to employees. When obvious workplace conflict occurs, as it absolutely will from time to time, I suggest HR step in immediately with thorough investigations and mediation.  There is so many statistics on employee anxiety. My curiosity can’t help but wonder what the statistics are on management not addressing dealing with workplace anxiety.

The World Health Organization tells us that for every $1 spent on treatment there is a $4 return. Here is a link for HR and Management to review for guidance to begin the process of having active, educated, clear policies for people with anxiety disorder.  I challenge you to ask your HR to read the article and start this solution-based transformation. I think I can speak for those with anxiety disorder; please help us have a voice and be part of the solution. We are all on the same team and want to focus on successful results. We just need to all get on the same page about how to get there. Let’s keep this conversation moving. Many years, my friend, many years.