A recent study has revealed that both men and women suffer reasonably equally when it comes to workplace performance anxiety.

However, the research that studied 1,000 workplaces revealed the different reasons why men and women seek out professional development and training in order to overcome these issues and build their workplace communication confidence. The research entitled ‘Beating workplace performance anxiety’, which was conducted by RADA in Business, found a clear disparity between the key causes of communications and performance anxiety between men and women.

Workplace performance anxiety in men and women

The report revealed how women typically are more likely to feel uncomfortable when it comes to expressing themselves in the workplace, at 3.3% or those surveyed compared to 2.2% of their male counterparts. Similarly, only 8% of women said they found it easy to make themselves heard, compared to nearly double within the men surveyed at 15%.

In comparison, male employees are more likely to feel anxious when it comes to social situations, with men 45% more likely to feel this way when it comes to socialising with colleagues and 15% noted that small talk brings about similar feelings of anxiety.

When reviewing the results, it is clear that women typically suffer from work performance associated anxiety when it comes to situations which include presenting to groups and getting their voice heard. Men require more support when it comes to spontaneous communication situations, with their anxieties around job interview and negotiating pay rises considerably less than their female colleagues.

Workplace anxiety

Workplace anxiety can come about due to a number of occurrences at work, with some us feeling more affected by events than others. Studies have revealed that workplace anxiety is often related to one of the following;

  • Excessive worry in regards to tasks or deadlines
  • Feelings of weakness or the desire to hide these from colleagues and management
  • Fear of contributing to meetings
  • Feelings of worry in line with asking questions or requesting to learn new skills or knowledge
  • Fear of being underqualified or incompetent within your role
  • Feelings or worry aligned with interacting with co-workers or bosses
  • Eating in front of colleagues or using facilities such as toilets
  • Remembering everyone's names

These experiences and the associated negative feelings can have an immense impact on an employees performance and can actually overflow into their personal life. These anxieties are not uncommon and employees should not be shamed for feeling this way, however, they can be tricky for management to effectively and positively impact, without the correct training. Therefore, management should consider workplace training which aims to educate the whole company on these issues and implement a methodology and recommendations on how to manage these feelings to support workers.

Workplace training to combat occupational anxiety

Workplace training is always the prime time to capture the attention of your workforce. It offers an opportunity to gather everyone together and discuss current business objectives, company targets and employee wellbeing.

In order to combat workplace anxiety and the stigma that may be attached, management should aim to educate the wider workforce whilst also supporting those who may be suffering in silence. Management should be aware of the key indications of how to spot someone suffering whilst also being aware of how to help those who confide in them. The manager should be able to offer the following basic tips, in order to begin to start a plan to support their employee;

  1. Does your employee have a particular symptom or trigger? Understanding the key areas where the anxiety is linked can be the pivotal turning point in making a positive change.
  2. Are there enough trusted colleagues or managers to support the employee on a daily basis? Talking about the issue as and when it arises can better allow the employee to gain valuable support at work.
  3. Would it be beneficial to see an occupational therapist? Some people won't want to involve a professional but for others, this can be a great opportunity to discuss experiences without fear of these being passed on within the business.
  4. Are there any coworkers or colleagues who exhibit negative behaviours? Take note of any employees who could be contributing either consciously or subconsciously to workplace anxiety and make plans to discuss their behaviour in a private setting.
  5. Recognise achievements and ensure that this activity is inclusive and implemented across the board. If anyone is significantly underachieving, make sure this is addressed in a way which offers them the opportunity to talk about any issues that might be causing this.
  6. Encourage a workplace built on sharing knowledge, open communication and teaching one another different skills.
  7. Ensuring that there are barriers between work and private lives can reduce stress for employees. Where managers are contacting employees outside of hours and setting too much work there is a higher risk of staff feeling more and more burdened.
  8. Finally, create an environment which nurtures diversity, encourages healthy lifestyles and incentives hard work and good attitudes.