Workplace anxiety: What you need to know

With almost 30 per cent of Australians experiencing some level of anxiety, how do your leaders respond to staff with anxiety?

How do your leaders respond to issues of staff anxiety?
If they don’t actively engage in creating a culture and environment where employees know their leaders genuinely care, then you need to invest in coaching to get your leadership team up to speed, said HR director Merylee Crockett.
“Anxiety is becoming increasingly prevalent in the workplace, either due to the incidence of mental illness or as a result of life or work stressors, and there’s no doubt that this impacts staff productivity, engagement and relationships within the workplace,” said Crockett, HR director at Interactive.
Indeed, the ‘Stress and wellbeing in Australia Survey 2013’ by the Australian Psychological Society found that Australians had “significantly lower levels of wellbeing and significantly higher levels of stress and distress, and depressive and anxiety symptoms, than in previous years.”
Report author Lynne Casey said 28 per cent of Australians reported having anxiety, with 12 per cent of respondent confirming their anxiety was in the severe to extremely severe range.
Where an employee experiences anxiety or other potentially debilitating symptoms, the effect can quickly extend “beyond the individual to the team”, Crockett said.
For this reason, implementing practical strategies to relieve workplace pressure, both on the individual and the team, is critical.
“Leaders need to be trained how to communicate with staff who are experiencing anxiety… There are many good programs to raise awareness and to help reduce personal judgment,” Crocket explained.
At Interactive, they have gone one step further by developing the wellbeing@work program, which aims to increase their employees’ resilience and encourage a healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise, relaxation and attitude.
“We provide support to staff by providing professional counselling services, both for themselves and other effected members of their family,” Crocket said.
“We recently experienced a tragic workplace incident that affected many of our staff. At these times, you do what you think is right to provide support, but most importantly – you communicate as much as you can, whenever you can and you simply be ‘present’ and respond to what is needed then and there. Staff can feel if the leadership genuinely cares.”
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