How can employers reduce the anxiety levels of their employees?
Our recent well being report identified anxiety as a key issue for many employees – so what’s causing it and what can employers do about it – especially when their employees are working remotely?

More people are happier at work and happier with their working environment than before the pandemic, but anxiety levels have not improved, according to our latest annual data on well being.

WorkL founder Lord Mark Price presented the Annual Report on well being at one of our recent monthly webinars hosted for Business Network members.

The 45-page report analyses the data of more than 23,000 employees across 25 industries who took WorkL’s online Workplace Happiness Survey.

While results showed an overall average workplace happiness score of 70.4%, only 61.5% of employees agreed with the statement, ‘I rarely feel anxious at work’. That figure was the same as for one year earlier.

Mark Price commented: “Employees were anxious in 2020 and they are still anxious, but I suspect that they have traded one set of anxieties for another.”

Identifying the causes of anxiety

Panellist Lucy Cavendish, a trained counsellor and former journalist, was not surprised by the results: “I’ve had a lot of clients who are suffering from depression and a whole host of issues around security – job security, life security, relationship security. I think we’re really going to have a huge mental health crisis.“People like working from home to a certain extent but there are a lot of people who don’t because they don’t have the space to do any sort of delineation between their home life and their working life and I think that’s causing a lot of problems.

“What most people need is energy from other sources – other people or experiences, or gathering around the watercooler – and they are feeling lonely and isolated.“There are also a lot of key workers who have still been going out to work and they have been really anxious about their own health and safety.”

Communicate with your employees

Some 8,000 organisations are now listed in WorkL’s Happiest Places to Work rankings, which are based on data collected through the Workplace Happiness Survey. Mark observed: “What we’ve seen with many of these companies is a correlation between communication and anxiety – those companies where people feel they are well-informed do better in terms of well being and managing anxiety.”

Lucy agreed that communication is one area where employers can really help: “People want some connection and they want to know what’s going on, so it’s really important to communicate and be honest and transparent.”

Make employees feel safe at work

Panellists also highlighted a need for employers to adapt to the needs of their employees who are going to their workplace to help them feel safe and secure. Small business owner Sam Jameson, founder of London-based beauty brand Soapsmith said:

“We don’t have the opportunity to work from home. We have a large studio where five of us are making the soaps. We are socially distanced and wearing PPE but one of my employees read a lot about how Covid was rising in our area and he was really worried – so now he comes in in the evenings to do a night shift. He has his music blaring out and he’s really happy.”

Offer counselling support

Since moving to a virtual environment, Product Madness – a social and mobile gaming company with more than 200 employees – has recruited a counsellor. Webinar panellist Darcy Carvalho, people & culture business partner at Product Madness, said: “People have come forward to say that they love that benefit – they feel cared for. Given the times and the amount of pressure because we have so much work, it’s an outlet for them.”

While not all companies will be able to afford an inhouse counsellor, Lucy Cavendish suggested: “One direction they might go in is to have a wider [online] group like this, where people can bring their concerns.”

She predicted: “After this [pandemic] people will start saying, I need more support from my employer. Employees won’t want to work for companies that don’t do that.”

To read our full reports, join our webinars and get exclusive industry insights, join our business network. Visit our Business Network section.

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