The ideal employee work environment is often composed of several components, including the social, mental and physical, which creates some sense of gratification for the employee. These components, when in the right mix, can make work exciting and fulfilling. If not properly combined, can lead to employees feeling disgruntled and frustrated.
Anxiety or stress, which is part of the mental component, is most often present in today’s workplace. While some consider anxiety or stress as a mental disorder which can lead to depression and other complications, others see it as part of the work experience and therefore live in denial of the actual consequences and effect it has on the mental status.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is ‘a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her abilities, cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and makes a meaningful contribution to his or her community’. It is a state of mind in which an employee can effectively utilise his or her capacities by displaying psychological resilience in making personal and social adjustments to fit the dynamics of a workplace environment.
Anxiety in the workplace may be caused by several factors such as workload, conflict with other colleagues, performance, new role/job, lack of confidence of one’s ability to execute a task.
According to a recent study, about two-thirds (64%) of Nigerian employees are at risk of employee burnout, a condition caused by excessive and prolonged workplace stress. Consequences of this include fatigue, undue stress, insomnia, sadness, extreme anger or irritability, alcohol or substance misuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, and vulnerability to illnesses such as cold and malaria.
Workplace stress could result in an employee acting unpredictable, isolated, frustrated, aggressive, irrational, missing deadlines, and very hard to be with. This can have catastrophic consequences for the workplace. Employees with anxiety may show signs of detachment from fellow employees, panic, loss of concentration or may seem uninterested in critical workplace activities.
The Role of the Organisation
To help prevent or minimise the effects of stress on employees, organisations need to:
- Educate employee on time management: This will reduce a lot of stress caused by not knowing how to prioritise task effectively.
- Keep the communication lines open. Inform employees that help is available, and they should feel free to voice out challenges experienced in carrying out their tasks in the workplace.
- Support them to have “family times” by respecting boundaries. Sensitise employees on how to maintain a work-life balance.
- Organise “Lunch and Learn” sessions to have conversations on specific issues around depression and stress management
- Recognise and reward the contributions of employees especially those that have contributed immensely to the growth of the organisation
The Role of The Employee
- Figure out what makes them anxious or identify their stressor which could be; excessive workload, dealing with a difficult colleague or task. This is the first step to addressing its root causes.
- Take out time to attend mental health sessions, champion activities that promote stress management and show empathy to colleagues.
- Stay and maintain a positive mindset. Celebrate little wins.
- Eat healthily, exercise regularly, take out time to have enough rest etc.
- Reach out or seek help when necessary.
Employees’ wellness should be a strategic priority for organisations. An investment in the employee’s health will pay off in having healthier employees, increases job satisfaction, job retention, reduce work-related accidents, improves productivity and boost the organisation’s bottom line.