Based on recent research, work-related anxiety has grown to epidemic proportions. A LinkedIn survey finds that 80% of people get stressed about work even before a new work week begins, a phenomenon known as the “Sunday scaries.”

Most people occasionally feel anxious at work. Hard deadlines, upcoming presentations, personnel changes, and office politics can contribute to heightened stress levels at certain points in time. But if some of your people feel anxious routinely, that’s when HR’s alarm bells should be going off.

To ensure that your team members are maximizing their potential, there are steps that you and your HR department can take to get educated on how to recognize symptoms of chronic anxiety and respond proactively.

  1. Include Mental Health Days: Many employers have restrictive sick-day policies that cause people to hide mental health issues such as anxiety. Incorporating mental health days into your organization will send a clear message to your people that acknowledging and managing work-related stress is encouraged as a matter of policy. This is a win-win approach since happier employees are likely to perform with nine times more intensity.
  2. Recognize the Tell-Tale Signs: Even in 2019, there remains a stigma surrounding mental illness. As a result, you probably have team members who are reluctant to reveal their chronic anxiety. This is why it’s crucial for an organization’s human resources department to undergo training on the traits and behaviors usually connected with anxiety or depression, including reduced productivity, nervousness, and poor interpersonal relationships.
  3. Preventive Care Through Technology: Research shows that 58% of people are more likely to gauge their wellbeing at work if their employers provided digital technology to help them do so. Incorporating wearables to monitor stress levels and heart rates, as well as apps that help people begin a fitness plan, are effective tools to increase overall workplace health. An HR team that shifts the focus from acute care to preventative care will give its people opportunities for better long-term mental health.
  4. Engage Everyday: Employee engagement remains the single largest HR challenge. This will only change once employee wellbeing becomes an organizational priority. To maximize employee engagement, your HR team should consider frequent meetings as a way to keep tabs on your people’s state-of-mind. Such get-togethers are also a good opportunity for you to discuss possible wellness solutions. Staying connected to your people also benefits overall organizational well being, since employees who feel invested in your organization are more motivated to produce.
  5. Respond to Anxiety With Agility: Workplace anxiety, according to the World Health Organization, is “the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.” Your organizational policy should be flexible enough to help team members who are experiencing anxiety, navigate a particularly difficult period. Your HR team should encourage department heads to provide their people with additional time for assignments or implement other workload adjustments as needed.

Help your people say bye to the sunday scaries. Workplace anxiety is a very common but overlooked problem. A global poll found that 76% of Americans have “really bad” Sunday night scaries. The good news is that people today are more aware of the causes and consequences of workplace anxiety than ever. However, the term ‘mental illness’ still carries a stigma, making it difficult for HR to create an open and supportive culture for its people.

By taking the steps listed above to show that your organization supports and cares for its people, you’ll empower them to recognize and address their anxieties. Helping your people cope this way will help them concentrate on their work performance, increase productivity and, ultimately, contribute to your organization’s long term success.  

Stephanie Stevens

From Stephanie Stevens

Stephanie is Content Marketer at HiBob. She has a background in Clinical Psychology and Crisis Management, and enjoys abstract painting and watching horror films in her spare time. She believes that people can connect with themselves, their peers, and the world around them through creative writing, helping them foster a deeper sense of self and their life goals in the process.