Mental health & work

Employers must acknowledge anxiety and make adjustments to accommodate those suffering from it, writes Anamika Yaduvanshi

Mental health wellness and productive performance go hand in hand. Therefore, it makes sense that employee well being has become a primary concern of several organisations and performance discussions. Employees need unwavering support and faith from their employers if they are to perform at their best,and this is especially true for employees who may be dealing with mental health challenges like anxiety or depression. Employers need to make it clear to their employees that they can count on your encouragement and understanding without fear of losing their jobs or a promotion. With this in mind let’s discuss anxiety, a disorder that can seriously affect performance, quality of work and employee motivation.

Anxiety disorders sufferers can be affected physically, psychologically, emotionally and even spiritually. Even though there may not be any outward signs of illness, anxiety disorder can be fraught with distressing and debilitating symptoms. It can also cause severe lifestyle impairment and what seems like insurmountable physical and mental health challenges. These challenges often leave sufferers frightened, confused, frustrated, and at their wit’s end.

The five major forms of anxiety are: Panic disorder, Post traumatic stress disorder, Obsessive compulsive disorder, Social anxiety disorder and Generalised anxiety disorder

Someone with anxiety might always feel on edge, have difficulty concentrating for long spans of time or worry excessively. They might also be easily irritable and indecisive, and may experience elevated levels of stress and nervousness.

People often assume anxiety and stress to be essentially the same. Almost every professional working person experiences stress, particularly when deadlines look or a company is facing difficulties, but not every employee experiences anxiety.

Here are a few ways employees can support:

  • Be open to discussion: Everyone experiences a different intensity and frequency of anxiety. No two employees will have the same trigger nor will they express their anxiety in the same way. Despite the stigma around mental health, employers should initiate an honest dialogue and take the initiative to let employees know that their mental wellness is being taken seriously. Once the employees start feeling more confident confiding in the management you can collaboratively create a motivating work environment.
  • Be flexible: Sometimes simply knowing the possibility of working flexibly can help reduce an employee’s anxiety. For people with anxiety some days are worse than others thus, they might need additional time for certain assignments. Making small adjustments, offering telecommuting or flextime can do a world of good.
  • Frequent and transparent communication: A one time honest discussion isn’t enough. Once you’ve established healthy dialogue with an employee you must maintain regular contact. Communication is a key factor in employee motivation. Arranging a meeting with employees every month to ask them how they are coping with their workload, assisting them by providing positive feedback, discussing achievements and progress, appreciating and recognising their work is crucial.

It is important to remember that not all disabilities are externally visible. Individuals with anxiety want to give their all and as employers its your responsibility to provide them the tools and support they need to do so.

The writer is a life coach and motivational speaker