02 Apr 2024

Creating a supportive workplace: Spotting signs of anxiety among your staff

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Following the pandemic, anxiety has become a growing concern to the UK economy and can affect businesses of all sizes. As a result, employers need to prioritise the mental well-being of their staff.

Anxiety, a common mental health issue (60 per cent of employees are experiencing anxiety in 2023), can significantly impact employee productivity, engagement, and overall job satisfaction.

Therefore, recognising the signs of anxiety among your team members and providing appropriate support is crucial for maintaining a positive work culture. In this blog, we’ll explore how businesses can identify signs of anxiety in their staff and offer practical tips on providing support.

 

Spotting the signs

Behavioural changes

Watch for noticeable changes in an employee’s behaviour. They may become withdrawn, avoid social interactions, or display increased irritability and restlessness. Changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or excessive tiredness, can also be indicative of anxiety.

 

A decline in performance

Anxiety can hinder an employee’s ability to concentrate and make decisions, leading to decreased work performance. Look for signs of decreased productivity, missed deadlines, or increased errors.

 

Physical symptoms

Anxiety can manifest in various physical symptoms. Some individuals may experience frequent headaches, stomachaches, or muscle tension. Others might complain of fatigue, dizziness, or trouble breathing. Pay attention to these cues, especially if they persist over time.

 

Absenteeism and presenteeism

Anxiety can prompt employees to take more sick days or arrive at work but struggle to function effectively (presenteeism). Regular and unexplained absences or a noticeable decrease in their engagement during working hours could indicate underlying anxiety.

 

Supporting your staff

Foster open communication

Create a culture that encourages open and honest conversations about mental health. Let your employees know that you are available to listen without judgment. Consider implementing confidential channels for employees to seek help or share their concerns.

 

Provide mental health resources

Offer access to resources such as mental health hotlines, online counselling services, or workshops on stress management. Promote the use of these resources and ensure employees are aware of their availability.

 

Flexible work arrangements

Introduce flexible work options, such as remote work or flexible hours, to accommodate employees’ needs. This can help reduce work-related stressors and create a more balanced work-life environment.

 

Train everyone

Educate managers about mental health awareness and equip them with the skills to support their team members effectively. Encourage regular check-ins to discuss workload, provide feedback, and identify any signs of anxiety.

Encourage the use of Wellness Action Plans (staff can identify what support they require should their mental health become compromised and outline how they wish others to engage with them). Educating all staff means they can recognise their own cues of compromised mental health and seek appropriate support. 

 

Promote self-care

Encourage employees to prioritise self-care and engage in activities that promote well-being. Consider organising wellness initiatives such as yoga classes, meditation sessions, or stress reduction workshops.

 

Reduce stigma

Foster an inclusive workplace culture that reduces the stigma associated with mental health challenges. Encourage conversations around mental health by sharing personal stories or inviting guest speakers to discuss their experiences.

Support staff to be social outside of work and inside to facilitate team cohesion and build relationships, enabling staff to bring their whole self to work.

Prioritising your employees’ mental health benefits them personally and positively impacts your business. In fact, Deloitte (2023) reported that for every £1 spent on prevention measures, there was a return on investment of £5.40. By recognising the signs of anxiety amongst your staff and providing a supportive work environment, you can foster a culture of well-being, enhance productivity, and improve employee retention.

Remember, creating an environment that acknowledges and addresses mental health challenges is an ongoing process that requires commitment from both employers and employees. Together, we can create workplaces where everyone feels supported and valued.