Just a year ago, the Wall Street Journal headlined: “The Most Anxious Generation Goes to Work”
Later in 2019, a report tragically announced that in the U.S, two-thirds of employees feel burnt out at work.
Do we need more to say that anxiety at work deserves to be taken seriously?
Just ask around. Some are stressed. Some are struggling. Others are on the verge of burnout.
And all too often, the discussion starts when it’s too late.
Work trends for the next few years are simple: tech will leave it to us to adapt to a way to work that will become increasingly human. In your efforts to future-proof your leadership, keep in mind no positive leader can do a good job being burnt out.
I wrote it in nearly each article on this platform, you bring your whole self to work. And as a confident leader, it’s your responsibility to initiate a conversation about how people feel at work.
Here’s why you need to look into anxiety at work.
Younger generations are heavily impacted
Last year, BuzzFeed writer Anne Helen Petersen wrote about Millennial burnout (and yes, it was heartbreaking)
“Exhaustion means going to the point where you can’t go any further; burnout means reaching that point and pushing yourself to keep going, whether for days or weeks or years […] We don’t quit. We internalize that we’re not striving hard enough. And we get a second gig.”
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How come they got to that point?
According to experts, the “hyper” culture is to blame: living your best life, all public on social media.
Millennials strive for perfection. Do something, wait for impact, if there’s none it means there’s more work to do to make it perfect. As a result, Millennials live with the belief that they have to work all the time. And see burnout as a reality of adult life.
That is a tragic example of what happens when you don’t take anxiety at work seriously.
Think it impacts millennials only?
48% of workers in the US report they’ve cried at work in 2019.
Let that one sink. Not you? Not your office buddy? Not your team member?
Well, could be your colleague across the bench.
Stress and anxiety at work are everyone’s problem
If you’re committed to thrive in the very next future, you have an important role in building a culture that promotes well-being at work and makes work more human. This responsibility is collective, managerial position or not.
Your team or coworkers need to know that they can come forward and ask for help anytime. They need to know that support is available – and yes, opening a listening space for someone to share their burden counts for that. And if you’re in charge of a team, they need to see you taking responsibility for preventing and addressing anxiety at work by expanding your leadership boundaries.
Where to start then? No need for fancy projects. Be pragmatic.
Amongst team members, create a culture of respect towards emotions. Because they’re part of being human.
Embrace a positive perspective. Show you care. Look around if you see people working late and ask for how long it’s been going on. Ask people how they feel. Maintain open communication because enough silenced their struggles out of fear of being judged or worse, considered as low performers.
Yes, anxiety at work is real. At all levels.
But a supportive workplace is far from impossible to build. A healthy workplace culture is a vibe more than a defined attitude. And the first step is to reclaim humanity as a core value.
In that challenge, your one task is to lead by example.