How to spot Anxiety in the workplace

signs of anxiety in employees

A spike in the number of people reporting significant levels of Anxiety immediately following the Prime Minister’s announcement of a lockdown on 23 March, a study conducted by academics at the University of Sheffield and Ulster University has found.

The study reported 36% of study participants had experienced increased levels of Anxiety. Anxiety and the fear of the unknown is an impending sense of uncertainty or stress response to a perceived threat in the future. Considering the current lockdown state we are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a certain level of anxious feelings are expected.

With anxiety on the rise, and lockdown implemented it has become harder for employers to see signs of anxiety and stress in the workplace and even harder to offer help.

 Anxiety: In simple terms

Anxiety is the mind and body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It is the sense of distress, unease or dread you feel before a significant event. There is a certain level of Anxiety that helps us stay alert and aware, but for those suffering from an anxiety disorder, it can be completely debilitating.

Anxiety can also be a raw, visceral sensation that convinces the person suffering from Anxiety that they are about to become ill or befall harm. It can result in breathlessness, a feeling of being trapped, or you may notice your heart racing and imagine the worst possible outcome. This is when the anticipated event is being experienced “as if it were happening now”, even though it isn’t.

Some people even play out a catastrophic event in their head or imagine scenes of conflict and engage in internal dialogue before speaking to someone, which can be incredibly daunting in workplace situations.

Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life and considering the current pandemic has isolated us, it is perfectly normal to experience these thoughts and feelings. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. If the anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of extreme anxiety, fear or terror they can peak within minutes and result in a panic attack.

How to spot Anxiety in the workplace:

  • Avoiding friends or family
  • Constant worrying
  • Crying
  • Feeling irritable, tired, or tense
  • Feeling like you need to be perfect
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • Losing interest in your work
  • Overeating or undereating

These symptoms can often lead to:

  • A drop in performance
  • Excessive missed days of work
  • Not appearing engaged in work
  • Physical complaints, like sweating, upset stomach, and not sleeping well (without another explanation)
  • Poor job productivity


Are you making sure to find ways of understanding your employees’ Anxiety and implementing support structures?


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help to break the cycle of anxiety and fear of the unknown.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help to slow down and restore a sense of balance to our emotional states. It can teach us how to pay attention to our feelings and sensations in the present moment, rather than getting caught up in excessive preoccupations with the past or imagined future catastrophes.

CBT can teach and show you how to manage unconscious impulses.  We can learn to be more aware of our unconscious triggers which may be caused by traumatic memories of the past, as well as learned avoidance behaviours that have become conditioned habits or deeply embedded defence mechanisms.

Learning techniques to break old habits and avoidance behaviours help us to make better choices and utilise a wider range of alternative approaches when resolving our problems.

Onebright’s team of BABCP accredited CBT therapists can support you to take manageable risks, challenge and confront a degree of adversity to overcome fears. This increases our ‘window of tolerance’ for anxiety and leads us back to a way of living without the stress our anxiety disorder brings to our daily lives.


How can Onebright help to support your employees?

Even if employees have not admitted to you that they’re struggling with anxiety in the workplace (or virtual workplace), it’s important to give them a support system that isn’t always an internal person so that they feel completely safe to speak freely.  Implementing mental health training for managers is a great way to keep an eye on employee mental health and make sure it doesn’t spiral.

All our therapists are BABCP accredited, meaning they hold the highest gold standard a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist can be.

Below is a list of services you can provide to support your employees:

  • Online CBT programme – Access an online portal which will allow you to work through your problems whenever suits you.
  • Remote CBT therapy – We can offer one-to-one therapy delivered virtually through Skype, FaceTime or via telephone.

Or if you’d prefer face to face, we have CBT in London and other locations: here

Which condition do you require support with?

Learn which conditions are treatable with CBT therapy.
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