Nothing demonstrates the lift and liability nature of anxiety quite like seeing the actual impact it has on one’s work. Furthering this presumption, ZenBuisness conducted a brand new study composed of 1,000 employees struggling with anxiety in the workplace. The objective of the paper was not just to destigmatize the disorder, but to re-contextualize its symptoms as well.
The researchers queried 1,004 currently employed Americans. Fifty-three percent of the respondents were women and 46.9% were men. Two respondents identified as nonbinary, and one respondent chose not to divulge their gender. The median age of respondents was 36.9 with a standard deviation of 11.1. The authors set out to find out exactly how mental un-wellness impacted productivity and work culture in addition to exploring how comfortable sufferers were disclosing their conditions to their employers.
To the first inquiry, remote workers reported that anxiety obstructed their productivity much more than respondents that went into work every day. The authors add,
“Employees who worked remotely 100% of the time had the highest average workplace anxiety (scoring 54 out of 100). This doesn’t necessarily mean working from home causes anxiety, though. People who already grapple with anxiety may seek remote jobs as a way of coping with their struggles, but isolation can exacerbate symptoms.”
Tenure proved to be the second most reliable correlate, much in the way you might have anticipated. Workers who were employed for four years or less expressed the highest averages of anxiety, while those who remained with the same company for at least a decade reported the least.
A recent independent workplace mental health report found that 86% of the respondents suffering from high-anxiety were determined to be uniquely productive in their respective industries.
“Having an anxiety disorder is not a sign of personal weakness. In fact, experts believe that anxiety disorders are caused by a combination of biological and environmental factors, much like physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes,” the authors write. “While anxiety can be extremely unpleasant, it does not have to be permanently disabling. For many people with mental illnesses, successfully maintaining a job is an essential part of recovery and well-being.
While many of the respondents from this new report were self-identified “top performers” previous data suggest employers might appraise the situation a little less charitably. Just about five workdays are lost to the disability and an average of five and a half days of decreased productivity are afforded by the same every month. Sufferers of anxiety are also more likely to breach their allotted amount of sick days compared to their otherwise healthy colleagues.
Even the employees themselves submitted a throat clearing alongside their top performer nomination, saying more discreetly, that their anxiety motivated them to work quicker and produce more often at quality’s expense. Despite this awareness, more than 90% judged it was a bad idea to confide in their bosses about their situation.
I’d hesitate to admonish this hunch, considering the volume at which terminations occur when employees show their shaky hands. Just last year a woman was fired for having a panic attack at work. Earlier this year a woman was edged out for merely revealing she suffered from the condition. It’s counter-productive to test the vitality of stigma based on how its discussed in polite company. The truest measure of its presence is revealed by policy and awareness.
The authors write, “If going into work makes your heart race, palms sweat, and body shake, you’re not alone. Anxiety affects over 40 million Americans, and the workplace can be a major catalyst. Whether it’s looming deadlines, the need to impress, or fear of being fired, workplace anxiety can wreak havoc on productivity and job performance and make employees feel like they’re just not good enough. And while confiding in co-workers or your boss may be uncomfortable, talking about it can open doors to solutions. Struggling with anxiety alone can make the symptoms worse and the workday harder to get through. “