Why is it essential to bridge the ‘anxiety gap’ at work?

We’ve all had moments where we doubt our presence in a workplace. A lot of times, it can be a social gathering at work, where a few awkward faux pas can lead you to believe that your co-workers don’t want you there. Such out-of-the-place feelings can give you unwanted anxiety and stress. And with every incident like this, your anxiety starts climbing the stairs of your mental state, crippling it slowly.

Imagine feeling like this every day, even during your regular workday; feeling alienated, as if nobody wanted you around. Imagine your 9-5 job turning into your worst nightmare.

Starting work at a new place can be nerve-racking. A person’s mundane worry range from making a positive impact at work to accomplishing their targets for that day. But the disputes in their minds get even more unsettling as they begin speculating if they’re being paid equally to hoping that they don’t become victims of sexual harassment. Somewhere, they seek to avoid falling into stereotypes.

Carrying such questions can be a lot, since the burden of them force us to survive than thrive in our workplace, affecting our careers severely. The productivity in a workplace is entirely dependent upon the wellbeing of its workers. As the list of discomforts grows, so do our anxiety levels. Workplace anxiety can be a maddening experience for anyone who faces it. Unsurprisingly, almost everyone faces this problem. Such are the realities of our world.

Trying to overcome such stress and anxiety affect us so much, that it becomes difficult for us to do our original jobs properly; the jobs that we get paid for.

Therefore, it is vital for company superiors to create an environment that aims for the success of their teams. Psychological safety, in a workplace, is all about creating environments in which employees feel acknowledged and respected. When employees don’t feel safe mentally in an environment, they fail to meet expectations, which hinders the overall progress of the firm.

We have often heard that things like ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’ are not meant for a workplace. However, we have the power to use the same ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’ and help the people around us, in and out of work. It is essential for an employer or co-worker to show compassion towards their team members.

Here are a few ways you, as an employer or co-worker, can help:-

    1. Acknowledge failure: Always be tolerant towards failures and shortcomings. Show your team members that it is alright to make mistakes. You can do this by recalling a past mistake that taught you a lesson. Self-disclosure is also a good way to make them understand that mistakes are a common human error. Show them that reporting an error is not the same as a poor performance. In fact, not reporting an error is a sign of poor performance.
    2. Pay attention: Keep an eye on your team members. See how they fair under pressure. Always keep a tab on their workload, making sure that your team members are only taking up optimal stress. If they ever look overstressed, then sit them down and talk. Try to adjust their workload if possible.
  • Empower and challenge: Let your team members take charge of projects well within their capability. Give them the proper authority to do their jobs and make appropriate decisions. Challenge them to overcome their barriers based on their skills. Tell them you trust them with a job. Trust in your employee’s skills and capability empowers them to perform well.
  • Recognize and be fair: Always acknowledge a job well done. Reward team members for their notable success, while continually being fair in all aspects. This will make a big difference in your team member’s state of mind.
  • Promote respect: It is crucial to promote mutual respect in your workplace. There should be respect not just between a senior and junior but also co-workers. A good workplace has no space for things like racism, gender discrimination or stereotypes. Every individual, no matter their designation, has the right to get respect from the people around them. A respectful environment helps a person focus on their work, where people do not undermine them.
  • Be flexible, approachable and supportive: One of the major problems faced by employees is trying to bring balance between their personal and professional lives. By making work hours flexible, introducing telecommuting policies and compressed work weeks, you can help your team members stabilize their lives. It is essential to shorten the lines of communication or have an open door policy for your employees to approach you. Whenever an employee or co-worker approaches you with a problem, be supportive of them. Try and understand their concern and try to offer help wherever possible.
  • Differentiate between psychological safety and accountability:  A psychologically safe environment promotes not punishing an employee for their errors harshly. However, this shouldn’t mean that there aren’t any consequences for lack of performance. While rewarding good performance is necessary, so is taking action against poor performance. All of this has to be done while accepting expected flaws and errors.

As our generation evolves, we are becoming more capable of creating safe environments for our employees and co-workers. Research shows that people who feel psychologically safe tend to be more innovative and learn from their mistakes. Ultimately, a high performing team needs an environment which makes them feel safe both physically and mentally.

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