Anxiety in the Workplace – How can management reassure staff?

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The pandemic, subsequent supply chain crisis, and now tittering market due to the threat of armageddon have raised staff anxiety levels throughout the world. While you might have little to worry about from any of these events, nonetheless few of us live in a vacuum and are oblivious to what is happening.

The strain from the outside is making its way into the work environment. Staff worry that they or a loved one might get sick. Vital deliveries are being delayed and companies are being asked to think outside the box to find workarounds or do without components.

And still, the ground rent, utilities, and equipment leases have to be paid.

Trying to keep the order book filled with jobs is a challenge even when the economy is booming. And ironically, even though there are dozens of people out of work, still finding talent remains difficult. Retaining staff has become even more important.

There could be a correlation between those feelings and the work environment your company has created. But don’t worry, dealing with the problem is possible! By gaining more insights into your company culture and understanding the root of the issue, you can take steps to alleviate your anxiety and make your workplace a more positive and productive environment.

Addressing Staff Concerns

Regardless of whether you feel Covid is overblown or an existential crisis, your personal feelings have to take a back seat to how your staff perceive the dangers. If you and they do not agree, it makes matters more complicated. Consider, if you feel it is overblown but your staff are terrified, they will wonder if you are taking risks with their health. Perhaps you are not investing in enough safety precautions. Or demanding that others work when they might still infect others.

Alternatively, you might be overly cautious. Perhaps you’ve created procedures to reduce contact amongst patrons and/or staff. If others feel the safeguards are overblown they will ignore such or take a passive/aggressive position and destroy what you have implemented.

As we cannot agree on the danger, risk, and ways to mitigate such, it is inevitable that issues will arise at work and when interacting with customers and recruiting new staff. Finding a happy medium is tough. But there is guidance for all sorts of situations. 

Finding a way to be flexible while at the same time showing leadership is critical. Those with whom you work need to sense that you have a clear plan. Even if they do not agree with you on the extent to which you go to mitigate risk, your actions reflect on how you deal with crises. And in turn, this communicates that you will also follow through on contracts, providing services, and/or producing reliable products.

Showing a Caring Face

While most of us are quick to broadcast our own views, listening gives others the sense that as an employer you want to know and will prioritize the feelings of others. 

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

One of the benefits of having periodic staff reviews, especially “360 Degree” ones, is not just that management learns how to improve themselves, but also that it gives subordinates a forum to express themselves without fear of reciprocity. 

It is not enough to say, “kid you have a bright future here.” One has to demonstrate that there is a clear path for staff to progress and flourish. By understanding what employees feel they offer to the business, and what they want to develop, one mitigates some of the fear that they will have.

One key tool that employers can use is to set career goals. By getting something on paper, recognized by the manager and staff, defined formally and reviewed periodically, one establishes a deeper level of trust throught coaching

Creating goals is not onerous nor time-consuming. And to produce them, one can engage staff in first defining such and then reviewing and refining to align with business targets.

Culture of Trust

Bottom-line, employees have to sense that they are safe. This is an underlying message that runs throughout a company. And as the manager, you are the person that sets the tone which defines the culture. One cannot minimize how important having a great workplace culture is to the success of a business.

Photo by Vitaliy Lyubezhanin on Unsplash

When the culture works, though individuals can have bad days, others will pick up the slack. They will redress worries, find solutions to challenges that stymy others and keep the company’s heart beating. 

In today’s fast-paced society, the hustle culture in the US can lead to burnout and negative impacts on our mental and physical health. It’s crucial to recognize our limits and set boundaries to prevent overworking and burnout. Communication is also key in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. By being open with our colleagues and employers about our needs and limitations, we can create a more supportive and productive work environment. Prioritize your well-being and strive for a healthy balance between work and personal life.

Concluding thoughts…

Ultimately, surviving the tumult of the last couple of years will be the fodder of retrospective storylines. Like the World War II movies that painted a picture of how we, as a society overcame a grave hour of civilization. When those films make it to the cinema or Netflix, it will be interesting to see the way people rallied one another to keep on plodding along. More than likely, it will be because those in charge showed themselves as caring and engaging to others who were frightened and wanted to stick their heads in the sand.

Will Fastiggi
Will Fastiggi

Originally from England, Will is an Upper Primary Coordinator now living in Brazil. He is passionate about making the most of technology to enrich the education of students.

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