In the 1930s, John Maynard Keynes predicted we’d all be working 15 hours or less per week by now. That prediction was largely driven by technology. Instead, we’ve gone in the other direction.
There is an increase globally in workplace anxiety, despite our technological advances which promised the elimination of repetitive, stress-inducing tasks.
So what is causing so many anxiety symptoms is the workplace? And how can we reduce job anxiety? Plus, learn about the link between your motivations and work preferences and how they relate to your job satisfaction.
Work anxiety is when you have feelings of stress, anxiety, and frustration about your job.
Work anxiety is caused by various key factors such as globalization, technology, increasing workloads, and the psychological and social aspects of work.
1. Globalization: Thanks to technology, organizations have an increased client base across different time zones. While this solves many challenges and offers additional opportunities, with clients and staff in different time zones, it contributes to work-related anxiety
2. Technological Advancements: Tech enables the handling of more complex and time-consuming tasks, leading to higher levels of anxiety at work.
3. Increasing workloads: A few years ago, Groupon commissioned a study about work stress. It found that 20% of respondents worked 10+ hours a day, 50% said the workload was preventing them from work-life balance, and yet 53% said that, despite how much they were working, they still had significant financial concerns.
4. Work-Reward Misalignment: As in the example above, work-related anxiety arises when the amount of work doesn't align with the rewards obtained, leading to feelings of dissatisfaction and stress.
6. Loneliness of Remote Work: There are many benefits for employees who work remotely - and there can also be drawbacks, especially for more extroverted employees who value a sense of belonging. Without the personal interactions and the buzz of the office, remote workers can become lonely and anxious.
Three telling statistics were revealed in Perkbox’s 2020 UK workplace stress survey:
"Work-related office politics’ (37%) are the most common cause of work-related stress, followed by ‘lack of interdepartmental communications’ (34%), and ‘the work performance of others’ (33%).”
Changing from office-based work to remote work will disrupt each of these:
Does this mean working from home will cause a reduction in work-related stress? Possibly, but it’s complicated. While these will contribute to a less stressful working life (along with the absence of unpleasant commutes), other factors will have the opposite effect: taking care of children at home, lack of work-life boundaries, precarious economic conditions, and increased loneliness.
Dealing with feelings of anxiety and job stress can be challenging, however, there are several proven approaches you can implement"
By implementing these strategies, you can effectively manage and reduce work-related anxiety, improving your overall well-being and productivity.
There's no one-job-fits-all, especially when it comes to anxiety.
The best way to find your dream job (yes, you can find a job that doesn't lead to a panic attack) is by understanding yourself and what your main source of stress comes from.
The ideal job will vary from person to person. For example, someone who has a need for structure might find a remote job to be a more stressful work environment. And someone who likes to think out of the box might feel a sense of dread when they are expected to follow too many procedures.
At F4S we know that traits can't be labeled as good or bad - it's all about context. We also know that everyone has the potential for self-development. Just because you're an anxious person when it comes to public speaking, doesn't mean you have performance anxiety across the board.
Our assessment tool is more than 90% accurate and backed by 20 years of research) so you'll have a deeper understanding of your key motivations. We'll help show you what tasks excite and light you up. You'll also know what is draining to you or areas that you might want to improve. You might start to see a link between certain jobs and why they may have been an anxiety trigger in the past.
You like some variety, radical changes, doing new and different things in some of your work or business.
With a little bit of development you can become more socially aware of yourself and others.
We’ve been studying these concepts for years at F4S. Here’s what our research has shown: there are employees who thrive in group environments, and those who thrive in solo environments. Sometimes, the same individual may thrive in both, in different contexts.
Someone who thrives in a group environment needs to have contact with people. They like engaging with others to share their work and ideas, in order to be productive.
They love on-the-spot questions and are not afraid to interrupt others (and usually don’t mind being interrupted). They are driven by the energy of the mix of personalities and approaches to problem-solving constituting an office.
Someone who thrives in a solo environment needs space without auditory or visual distraction to get things done; this is partially why you saw the rise of “pod” spaces in Silicon Valley offices about 10 years ago because many programmers fit this mold.
Once the zone is breached, it can take a solo environment person a long time to get back into said zone. While they can appear reclusive or distant to some other employees, especially the group-focused ones, this is less an issue of introvert vs. extrovert and more an issue of preferred productivity style.
Many solo environment employees would be super fun at happy hour -- but to maximize their workflow, they need time alone to focus.
Get to know your team. The more you understand their unique workplace preferences, the better you can support and manage them. Learn their communication preferences, and understand their preferred work environment. Most of all, find out what motivates and energizes them, as well as what drains them.
By understanding this, you can support your team's workplace performance and reduce their job anxiety.
One of the hardest parts about work, and especially about organizations scaling up, is that a lot of advice about communications or management is a “one-to-many” approach, i.e. an Intranet board, an employee newsletter, or the like.
But people are individuals, and every employee has a different connection to the work, to the purpose of the organization, to their own working style, and more. Management needs to be more one-to-one, especially in trying times.
Employees need support now more than ever. Here are some things to consider to support people with anxiety in the workplace:
Developing a positive team culture is key to employee wellbeing. Invite your team to take the F4S assessment. You'll uncover your unique team culture, where your differences lie, and other key insights.
If you have an increasing or decreasing workload, that can be a source of anxiety and stress — those with a decreasing workload will begin to assume they’re on the layoff list. When someone has decreasing task work, give them longer-term, strategic projects to work on. With an increasing workload, it's easy to start feeling overwhelmed. Be sure to provide additional support, recognition or even a bonus to show their work is valued.
If you are growing, consistently communicate about the new workload, explain what types of new hires you are working for, and provide either increased compensation or an incentive/bonus structure for current employees. No one wants to take on more work without a monetary adjustment.
Some feel this concept is cheesy, but it works in numerous organizations.
These aren’t necessarily mentors, as peer relationships can work fine, but they are employees who check in on other employees to chat about things like:
It’s almost a de facto managerial role and might be good for those who want a management track in the future. It allows managers to focus on their deliverables (while also checking in with their people, of course) and have some help on the anxiety temperature-taking.
Previous F4S success on leadership styles has shown that roughly 4 in 5 employees are motivated by goals, whereas the other 20% is motivated “away from problems,” i.e. by challenges. This applies to leaders too, and when people become leaders, their motivation methodology carries through -- so if they were motivated by goals, that’s how they drive others.
The “away from problems” (challenges) model can work, but in a high-stress period of time like a pandemic and concerns about returning to work, the “goals” model of leadership is likely to be more effective.
If you are a leader who drives others around challenges and problems – we see this in tech often, as the underlying goal of tech is commonly to fix some inefficiency – it might be better to take a softer, step-by-step, goal-rooted (“let’s accomplish this for this week”) approach for the near-term.
The above is the beginning of a guide, but it all comes back to checking in with yourself and making people feel heard and appreciated. By allowing individuals to work based on their preferences and skills, there can be a wide range of benefits, including reducing chronic stress and workplace anxiety.
Take the free workplace assessment and find out how you really thrive. Then take our Vital Wellbeing so you can kick your anxiety to the curb.
Our expert coaches developed a 9-week Vital Wellbeing program to help you learn how to calm anxiety quickly and build emotional resistence.
Coach Marlee (your amazing AI-powered personal coach) will analyse your unique traits and goals to personalize the program so you see results as quickly as possible.
In this high impact nine week program Coach Marlee will help you to increase your energy, vitality and general wellbeing while also helping you to break through self sabotage and develop life long skills for emotional resilience and self-esteem. Enjoy weekly cutting edge science backed wellbeing resources from both Marlee and our wellbeing partner Blisspot.
“Marlee helped me build deeper levels of self-esteem and how I valued myself vis-a-vis the greater world. It also taught me courage to believe in my beliefs, and that it is not about success or failure, but that we give it a go, a try”
"Wow this program has totally changed my relationship to goals! Thanks so much Marlee, I miss you already"
“I’ve always found it daunting to be a leader, I have never sought out to be the one in charge. The positions have always found me. I now have new confidence. I especially like the concept of leadership through context. Very empowering”.
“Mind blowing! The Team Building program helped us resolve long-standing friction and misunderstandings in the team. Great experience for everyone involved!“
“This coaching program has really helped me to see the value in goals, and get much better at setting them. It’s had a really positive impact on my career!”
“This wellbeing program blew my expectations. At first I thought the program was just going to help me with weight loss, but as I went through, I got so much more. This program has helped me shift my entire thinking and attitudes about myself, helping me to prioritize my health and wellbeing. I feel amazing!”
“Marlee helped me to work on my self-belief”
“The Trust Your Gut coaching program with Marlee was simply amazing. It really helped me to reflect on my decision making style in a new light and boosted my confidence. I 200% recommend!”
Learn how to connect with colleagues and boost workplace motivation.
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