Anxiety in the Workplace
It’s not always easy to talk about anxiety in the workplace, especially when you’re the one suffering from it.
You’re on your way to the office when the feeling hits you. Your heart rate rises and your skin goes clammy; by the time you’ve walked in the front door your shirt is nearly sticking to your back. Anxiety at work throws a bunch of feelings at you at once. You’re jumpy, you’re on edge, you’re nervous in a way you can’t quite explain. Most of all, you’re exhausted.
Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone—in fact, far from it. According to Monster's 2020 State of the Candidate survey, approximately 41% of employees report experiencing anxiety as a result of their job. The causes of workplace anxiety are myriad, running the gamut from long hours and looming deadlines to demanding bosses or bullying co-workers. But for many, the larger impact is similar, with job performance, relationships with peers, and the quality of one’s output taking a hit.
It’s not always easy to talk about anxiety in the workplace, especially when you’re the one suffering from it—and it can be even harder to know where to turn for help. However, there are more resources than you might expect that can help you learn how to deal with anxiety at work. First, though, let’s cover some of the basics.
Workplace anxiety by numbers
Just how common is anxiety at work? The answer: pretty darn common. A survey from the Anxiety Disorders Association of America notes that 18.1% of the US adults have an anxiety disorder, but only 36.9% of those adults receive treatment. At the same time, a study from the insurance company Unum notes that mental illness is one of the top causes of worker disability in the U.S., with 67% of those with a diagnosed mental health disorder also having anxiety.
As commonplace—even prevalent—as workplace anxiety is, people are generally hesitant to talk about it. In fact, another piece of research found that most would rather literally talk to a robot than have a conversation about anxiety with their manager. However, as factors like the COVID-19 pandemic reshape the way we work, there are some signs that the larger conversation around workplace anxiety may also be shifting.
“Because the pandemic has impacted everyone in some way, there may be more openness to have discussions around mental health and well-being,” says Lisa Frydenlund, an HR knowledge advisor with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “Additionally, we are hearing and seeing more discussion by the media regarding the larger numbers of various mental health issues and those impacted, which may create a greater acceptance that it’s okay to talk about it.”
Exploring your options
If you’re suffering from workplace anxiety or stress, what resources do you have? While the answer likely varies from one employer to the next, many provide mental health benefits through their health insurance plans. It may also be worth reaching out to your primary care provider to see how they may be able to assist.
Another, often less pursued option, is to explore Employee Assistance Plans (or EAPs), a type of benefit program designed to assist with personal issues that may impact your job performance—including, but not limited to, how to calm anxiety at work, deal with depression, face legal and financial issues, and tend to child or elder care needs.
“EAPs can be an alternative for short-term assistance, usually averaging around five visits,” says Frydenlund. “They’re often a free service and available on a 24/7, confidential basis to an employee and their dependents.”
Make a change
If you’re experiencing anxiety at work and you suspect your job (or boss or co-workers) are contributing to your unhappiness, it couldn’t hurt to start looking for a new employer. Could you use some help taking the first step? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads.