Red flags for anxiety in employees
The coronavirus pandemic has become a source of anxiety for many people. As someone who is responsible for employee wellbeing, an HR manager needs to know how to spot anxiety in a team member, and how to help them through it.
There are many different events that can evoke feelings of anxiety for a person. One such event is enduring an experience with an unknown outcome.
Given the inherently unpredictable nature of the current global health crisis, a shadow of unknown has been cast on everyday life – causing many people to lose their sense of security and increased feelings of anxiety – including their day job.
Picking up on employee anxiety
The role of looking after the people and culture of an organisation is always an important one, but during a time of crisis, that role needs to be kicked into overdrive.
Part of looking after people and culture is being able to recognise an employee who is experiencing anxiety and setting up a culture that can make managing that anxiety less difficult.
Anxiety can manifest itself into the daily behaviours of an employee in countless ways. But, there are some trends in particular that are quite common and telling on employee anxiety, and during times like these, HR managers need to be hyper-aware of what those behaviours are.
Frequent mood changes
Anxiety can be a real rollercoaster. One moment the person can have it all under control, and minutes later they can spiral.
For the people who interact with someone experiencing this type of anxiety, this can often mean that they don’t know what version of the person they’ll be experiencing each time they interact with them.
HR managers need to recognise that when this happens, it is normally a sign that the employee is going through a rough time, and often that rough time stems from anxiety.
Someone who feels anxious often (wrongfully) blames themselves for not coping with things better. This can lead the person to isolate themselves and go off the grid for extended periods of time.
If you haven’t heard from one of your employees in more than a couple of days, particularly in a remote working environment, it might be anxiety driven, and as the HR manager, you need to be aware of this common trend.
Drop in productivity
Sudden drop in quality of work is normally a solid indication that something isn’t quite right. If something like this occurs with one of your team members, it might be a sign that their anxiety is impacting their work.
Staying in your lane
Before approaching employees and trying to help them deal with their anxiety, you need to make sure that your mindset is in check.
For many, anxiety is a disorder – which means that it is out of largely out of their control and prevents them from being able to go about their daily lives.
Telling someone who suffers from anxiety to ‘calm down’, is like telling an asthmatic person to ‘breathe normally’. As an HR manager, you need to be aware of how serious anxiety can be and come up with strategies to deal with it sensitively.
It’s also important to remember that unless you are a qualified mental health professional (and hired by a company for that role), it isn’t your job to diagnose or treat employee anxiety.
As an HR manager, your role is knowing the types of challenges your employees experience, and how to create an environment that mitigates (or even eliminates) the chance for those challenges to spiral out of control.
Be a source of stability
When crisis hits the workplace, it’s up to the organisation’s leaders to step up to the plate and be a source of support and stability for those in need.
Anxiety can often be about uncertainty, so if there’s one thing an HR manager can do to help an anxious employee, it’s to assure them that their support is unwavering and constant.
Showing a sense of genuine understanding and flexibility to these employees is a great way to provide them with this level of support. Encouraging them to remain healthy and stimulated by giving them extra time to do things like exercise, read books and prepare nutritious meals is another avenue of support.
But, the most important way of offering support to these employees is by showing them that you are open and available to talk to them. Never underestimate the power of offering an open mind and a pair of ears to employees in need – it can make a huge difference.
Preparing for the long haul
Here in Australia, the government has said in no uncertain terms that the restrictions being put in place are going to be around for a while, which means that teams will need stay in isolation for a prolonged, indefinite period.
Working remotely for extended periods of time, not knowing when things will go back to normal, and all of the associated uncertainties are undoubtably going to be triggering for all of those prone to anxiety.
This being the case, when developing your strategy to offer support to those employees in need, you need to take a long-term and sustainable approach. Thinking of ways to provide long term support to your team can make a genuine difference to their quality of life.
Managing anxiety with Perkbox
Our entire mission statement is to help companies maximise their HR efforts by providing them with tools and resources that focus on employee experience.
One of our key offerings is our Perks platform, and among the different perks that we offer, there are some great resources available for those who are experiencing anxiety.
For instance, we offer full access to the Boxx fitness platform, allowing people to get fit from home by enjoying the online workout routines, yoga sessions and nutrition plans – completely free of charge. There’s nothing like easy access to high quality exercise videos to help manage anxiety.
We also offer full premium access to Aura, an app that helps its users destress by listening to soothing recordings that famously reduce anxiety, partaking in guided meditations, sleep easier with sleep stories, and more.
You can also receive full access to Blinkist, an app that keeps you intellectually stimulated by summarising over 3,000 non-fiction books on any topic for personal or professional development.