February 28, 2022, by HR Search & Rescue If you are a manager or a teamwork-oriented employer, chances are you work with someone who struggles with anxiety. Nearly 50% of Americans consider themselves socially anxious people that struggle with speaking up and speaking truthfully in public. For some, crippling levels of anxiety can interfere with their ability to live life in a healthy manner due to their worrying about things constantly. This can manifest itself in passing up growth opportunities, not speaking their opinion in important matters, and using avoidance in order to remove themselves from potentially challenging situations. Anxiety is no small matter, as it is the third most common psychological issue, dwarfed only by depression and alcoholism. Even the greatest, most dependable workers can be stricken with anxiety, and oftentimes, it is these workers who may actually be struggling the most. A highly motivated employee who wants to do his or her best without letting anyone down may gradually develop very serious anxious tendencies that will inhibit their ability to truly do their best work. So, how can you spot anxious tendencies at work? Well, this question isn’t so easily answered. Anxiety can manifest itself in a myriad of ways depending on the personality of the individual. For example, it may be as simple as noticing an employee who dreads public speaking. Other times, it may be someone who has a hard time getting things done on time or an employee who has difficulty being assertive and standing up for themselves. Regardless, as a dedicated manager or fellow employee, you have probably wondered what the best way to approach this situation and help these employees improve may be. Here are some tips to help you confront the situation in a healthy manner: Don’t Force Your Ideas Onto Others This is a perfect place to start because anxiety is not rooted in any one issue or misunderstanding. It is a personal issue that requires personal growth and understanding in order to get over. Perhaps the worst way to approach someone is to try to force them to conform to your idea of what “normal” behavior should entail. Instead, support the introverts who wear headphones or recharge by eating lunch at their desks by themselves. Widen your acceptance of different ways of living and existing. Only Start The Discussion If It Interferes With Work One of the best ways to gauge whether or not you should bring up the topic is if the anxiety is causing a tangible disturbance with the work. While you legally can’t ask employees about their private health information, you can start a discussion about a lack of participation in meetings, a regular failure to meet deadlines, or a lack of communication among teammates. We recommend always being sure that you are spinning the conversation positively. Make it known that you are just concerned and want to help improve the circumstance and the quality of work being produced. If the employee informs you that they suffer from anxiety, there are several things you can do to be a supportive manager. Be Supportive While it is easy to play the role of embracer and supporter, there is a fine line between support and enabling. Anxiety is real, yes. But this does not mean that growth cannot be made and that goals should not be met. Supporting them in facing their fears and growing at their own pace is more productive than enabling stagnation. Be Clear With Expectations If you want to stay on the same page and encourage employees healthily, it is essential to be as clear as you possibly can with your expectations. Anxiety is most often driven by uncertainty, so establishing a very clear-cut role can allow you to gently push them in a positive direction. One step at a time! Match them with structured tasks that allow them to step out of their comfort zone slowly but surely. Don’t Expect Perfection One of the easiest ways to breed widespread anxiety in the office is to demand perfection. No one is perfect, and you will learn more from employees and be better able to help them develop if you level with them. Focus on encouraging a healthy work-life balance and not overly stressing in any one task, even if it is vitally important. You can guarantee you will notice improved performance if you shift your expectations down a peg or two. HR Search and Rescue is a full-service HR consulting company that specializes in solving difficult workplace challenges. Their team aims to provide personally-tailored solutions to a wide range of workplace issues for both employees and employers alike.