Anxiety At Work Book Summary: How To Deal With Workplace Problems?

 Behavioral Psychology In The Workplace and Summary Of The Book Anxiety at Work 

Book Anxiety at Work

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Anxiety at work book summary

Anxiety at Work (2021) investigates how the modern workplace contributes to our increased anxiety. Explains how businesses and team leaders can assist employees with their worries and concerns.

About the author: Anxiety at Work

Adrian Gostick is a UK-based organizational psychologist and author. He is also the founder of The Culture Works, a Utah-based consulting firm.

Chester Elton is a Canadian management strategist and author. He is concerned with increasing employee motivation. They're also the authors of several other New York Times best-selling books, including The Carrot Principle, All In, and Leading with Gratitude.

Younger workers feel besieged by events beyond their control:

🔥How do you handle ambiguity? 

When you don't know what the future holds, you're bound to be anxious, just like the rest of us. Because the modern workplace is full of the unknown, this has become a major concern for today's workers. The goal is for leaders to do everything possible to reduce uncertainty when they can – and to assist their employees when they can't.

So, what's causing this ambiguity? Everything boils down to a lack of job security. Almost two-thirds of American workers are concerned about the future of their jobs. Of course, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused havoc in many professions, but these fears have their roots in earlier events as well. The 2008 financial crisis, as well as the fear of robots and automation taking over human jobs, continue to have an impact on the younger generation.

Unfortunately, many millennial workers also feel exploited. They've paid for their education and credentials, often incurring student debt. Despite this, their pay is often precarious, freelance, or contract-based. Why? Because it is the most beneficial labor arrangement for capitalists. As a result, millennials believe that they could be replaced at any time.

This unsettling fact generates unpredictably high levels of anxiety. Some social critics have even dubbed Millennials "Generation Paranoia." Younger workers are constantly looking over their shoulders at their competitors, and they feel compelled to work harder and longer than in the past. Employees feel obligated to be "always-on" and "always available" because of this.

🔥How can leaders help their employees reduce worry and the uncertainty that causes it?

They have little control over the delay in many cases. Disruption is occurring at a rapid pace in almost every industry, which is both exciting and challenging. As a result, uncertainty and change are unavoidable.

Leaders, on the other hand, are not helpless; they can still guide their teams through this time of uncertainty. When the COVID-19 outbreak struck, the optometrist firm FYidoctors was forced to close nearly all of its locations. The entire company was thrown into a state of panic and confusion as a result of this. The senior leadership team, on the other hand, was adamant about being open about what was going on. Through daily briefing sessions over Zoom, the leadership team kept their workforce up to date on any new developments or difficulties, as well as what they planned to do about them. Everyone felt much less anxious as the company's tone gradually changed from panic and confusion to mutual understanding.

A strong and productive team necessitates some tension:

🔥How sure are you that you can disagree with someone?

Perhaps you're not afraid to disagree with a friend or a loved one, but you're hesitant to do so at work. You may be concerned about the possibility of getting into a fight with your coworkers or your boss. There is, however, a significant distinction between healthy debate and toxic office animosity.

One of the most common complaints from managers is that their employees avoid conflict. They avoid difficult conversations and become agitated when confronted with negative feedback. Unsurprisingly, this is a source of frustration for managers.

Members of the highest-performing teams frequently disagree and debate. This conflict promotes better problem-solving skills and can even motivate employees to do a better job.

Why? People are more engaged and secure when they know their opinions are being heard, and they feel more ownership over work projects when their voices are heard. After all, if you have a say in something, you are more likely to own and care about it.

So, how can leaders encourage productive team dialogue? The first stage is to encourage discussion in meetings.

It's unusual for certain team members to keep their opinions to themselves. This invariably means that only a few more conflict-averse people are heard. One solution is to take a few minutes at the end of each meeting to ask each participant individually what their ideas are. This encourages people to step outside of their comfort zones and express themselves openly. Of course, this only works if team members are comfortable mentally voicing their ideas.

Managers should emphasize the importance of everyone offering their honest opinions in order to provide individuals with this sense of security. Although it may appear that sugarcoating one's thoughts is the best solution, it is actually harmful to the organization. Individuals and groups both perform better when they have the necessary information to make decisions on. When someone withholds their true feelings, they are essentially concealing information that could help others make better decisions.

There are, of course, good and bad ways to discuss. Managers can improve debate quality by requiring employees to back up their claims with evidence if they disagree.

Leaders must have difficult conversations about systemic bias and discrimination:

Workplace anxiety does not affect everyone the same way, and some of us are concerned simply because of who we are. At this point, we're talking about the psychological distress that members of marginalized groups may experience at work. These groups include ethnic minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities, to name a few.

Some executives continue to deny the existence of workplace bias. They believe that expressing their dissatisfaction is simply a matter of political correctness. The evidence, on the other hand, is clear: some people have been mistreated in the past and suffered as a result.

Change has long been overdue. According to studies, Black people in the United States are 20% more likely than any other group to have significant mental health problems. Despite this, Black people are less likely than the average American to receive help and treatment. Experts believe that racism and injustices they face in their daily lives, including at work, play a role in why black people are disproportionately affected by mental health problems.

🔥How can leaders become allies in the fight against workplace discrimination and bias?

First and foremost, all complaints should be investigated promptly, even if they appear to be minor. Second, leaders should foster an environment in which everyone feels comfortable being themselves. Naturally, this is easier said than done, and many people do not feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. Leaders, on the other hand, can contribute to a more authentic workplace by sharing more about themselves and demonstrating authenticity in order to empower others to do the same.

Finally, many executives may feel compelled to act in the manner of Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks, during a business town hall meeting in 2019. When accused of racial discrimination, Schultz stated that he "didn't see color." It's tempting to try to establish one's unbiased attitude in this manner, but it's a terrible idea. After all, the fact that you can't "see" someone's skin color doesn't make it any less accurate, nor does it make any discrimination they may face any less genuine.

Members of effective teams have a strong sense of belonging:

Have you ever had the agonizing feeling of being left out? Others may have attended a party, but you did not receive an invitation. Exclusionary feelings are frequently associated with school, but you can also feel excluded as an adult, even at work.

Employees are more productive at work when they feel like they're part of a team, according to research. When employees feel excluded by their coworkers, it affects both the individual and the company.

According to Cornell University research, fire stations where firefighters eat together at lunch save more lives than stations where firefighters eat alone. When researchers questioned the firefighters who ate alone about why they did so, they appeared visibly distressed. Why? Because they were aware that there was something fundamentally wrong with the way their team was operating.

Unfortunately, many of us have had the misfortune of being late for work. According to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, 71% of professionals have been alienated in some way by their coworkers. This is a serious issue for mental health because exclusion causes anxiety and reduces productivity.

So, how can managers ensure that everyone on their team feels included? The truth is that this can be challenging. After all, exclusion rarely occurs; coworkers do not return phone calls or invite people to lunch. It is much more difficult to detect something that is not happening than it is to see something that is. One of the best ways to avoid this problem is to have regular one-on-one catch-up sessions with team members to ask how they're getting along with the rest of the team.

It could be as simple as going through the ten-ten routine. This morning and afternoon ritual occurs when leaders arrive at work for the first time and is the last thing they do before leaving. The ten-ten includes walking around their team's office, saying hello to everyone, and asking how they're doing. This makes everyone feel like they're part of a team, which satisfies our natural desire to feel like we're an important part of something bigger. Another option for leaders to promote inclusiveness is to implement a buddy system. In this area, senior staff members mentor and socialize with rookie staff members.

Our overwork cult has resulted in burnout and lost productivity:

Your job security may be in doubt, but there is one thing that most of us can count on in today's workplace: too much work. Bosses are increasing their demands on their employees and expecting them to accomplish more in less time. Workers, on the other hand, are being pushed to their breaking point as a result of all of these demands.

According to a 2019 survey, 91 percent of American employees reported feeling burned out at some point during the previous year. When you're burned out, you're either physically or emotionally exhausted. You may grow tired of your job and the people you work with, or you may become impatient or even resentful of yourself for putting up with other people's unreasonable demands.

Burnout is not only harmful to the individual, but it is also harmful to the company. Employees who are burned out not only take 60 percent more sick days per year than the average employee, but they are also more than twice as likely to switch jobs.

With this in mind, many companies are recognizing the dangers of employee burnout. Regrettably, they're going about it wrong. How? By focusing on the symptoms rather than the root cause of the problem.

Many businesses provide employee well-being programs such as relaxation classes, healthy eating initiatives, and time management tips. Other methods include resilience training, which aims to make employees more resistant to burnout. These measures, however, ignore the fundamental issue: many of today's workers have far too much on their plates. Yoga has no way of correcting that. The healthcare industry has one of the highest burnout rates in terms of resilience. As the COVID-19 epidemic has shown, healthcare workers are extremely resilient and effective under pressure. They are, however, still exhausted, so resilience training is unlikely to make a significant difference.

🔥What can companies do to avoid employee burnout?

They can begin by reducing their personnel's workload. Many leaders believe it's impossible, but it's not. Healthcare workers, for example, are overburdened by bureaucracy. Every time they encounter a patient, they spend the necessary time filling out paperwork and checking boxes. Many healthcare organizations have discovered that simply reducing their employees' digital burden or reassigning form-filling to team members who enjoy such activities reduces their anxiety and overwhelm.

Millennials are concerned that they will miss out on better job opportunities:

Have you ever had FOMO (fear of missing out)? Perhaps you've been scrolling through social media, concerned that your friends appear to be having more fun and living better lives than you? If this describes you, you are not alone. Millions of young Americans agree, and as a result, they are concerned.

We don't just feel like we'll miss out on fun and festivities. It's also the big things for younger generations, like getting a good job, moving up in a career, or even getting a mortgage. What's the source of all this FOMO? Everything boils down to a lack of job security.

Many workers who work freelance or on a contract basis feel far more disposable than their parents' generation did. As a result, these younger generations frequently make a proactive switch to a different company. They jump from job to job at breakneck speed, afraid of missing out on better opportunities elsewhere. For example, 40% of baby boomers say they've worked for the same company for 20 years or more. More than three-quarters of Gen Zers say they plan to leave their current company after two years.

What exactly is it that young workers are so eager to learn? Eighty-seven percent of younger workers say they are looking for opportunities for learning and development to help them advance in their careers. Regrettably, they don't always notice it. According to CEB research, only one out of every ten organizations has a learning and development culture.

Employers, on the other hand, can profit from the mismatch between employee expectations and reality.

Organizations can reduce turnover rates and assuage younger workers' concerns about career advancement by implementing development initiatives for their employees. Traditional training programs, open to all employees, could be included. It could also imply more innovative approaches, such as allowing for a faster path to promotion. Ladders, a US-based employment firm, for example, offers its junior employees a promotion every four months, which includes a pay grade and job title change. To qualify for these mini-promotions, employees must meet specific learning objectives. This program not only boosts employee engagement, but it also boosts the company's profitability. This is not surprising given that organizations that promote employee growth and development are roughly one-third more likely to be industry leaders.

Perfectionist tendencies are becoming more prevalent among young people:

Do you exhibit any of the characteristics of a perfectionist? Do you set unreasonable goals for yourself or others? Are you hard on yourself, or do you believe in all-or-nothing thinking? If you recognize any of these characteristics in yourself, you may be putting yourself through undue stress at work.

While some jobs, such as aircraft piloting or medical technicians, require exceptional precision and attention to detail, perfectionism is more than just being precise or careful in your work. In reality, the desire to appear perfect is frequently used to define perfectionism. Perfectionists frequently feel judged by those around them, and they are constantly striving to meet what they perceive to be others' expectations.

Perfectionists are more motivated and conscientious, which may appear to be a positive trait. Perfectionism, on the other hand, has significant drawbacks. Perfectionists are not only rigid, but they also abandon difficult tasks more quickly, which is ironic. Why? Because if they know they won't be able to complete any task properly, they may not even attempt it.

According to a 2017 study of British, American, and Canadian college students by the University of Bath, perfectionism was far more prevalent than in previous generations. It's possible that social media has something to do with it. After all, it's easier than ever to compare ourselves to others, and the pressure to meet impossibly high online standards can be intense.

So, how can businesses keep perfectionism from becoming a source of concern among their employees, especially among younger employees? The solution is deceptively simple: teach your employees what constitutes adequate performance. Problems can arise when employees rarely receive positive feedback on work that is of acceptable quality. Instead, feedback is only given when something falls short of expectations. Employees have difficulty defining boundaries and determining how much effort to put into a piece of work. This is stressful for everyone, but it is especially stressful for perfectionists who are afraid of being judged harshly. As a result, even if the work isn't perfect, managers must lavish their employees with praise.

It is also beneficial for supervisors to understand how perfectionism manifests itself in the workplace in order to identify employees who may require additional assurance. Perfectionists can usually be identified by observing who requests a lot of guidance on projects, as perfectionists tend to request a lot more. If someone struggles to take risks, no matter how small, and becomes defensive when challenged, they may be a perfectionist.

Finally, no matter how busy you are as a manager, you should always take the time to express your appreciation for a job well done. Surprisingly, the team members who receive the most time and attention from their management are frequently the ones who fail. Managers are so focused on improving the performance of the team's weakest members that the strongest members receive very little feedback. Ironically, this can cause famous performers to be concerned about radio silence, leading them to believe that their work isn't up to par.


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