Anxiety overlooked workplace issue

Today’s workforce spans generations and given the pressures of everyday work, employees from different generations will likely experience anxiety, depression and performance issues in very different ways.

“While anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America, affecting more than 40 million adults across the country and contributing to more than $42 billion in health care costs annually, the impact of anxiety in the workplace is often overlooked,” says Marie Apke, chief operating officer of Bensinger DuPont & Associates, an employee assistance program provider. “Given the economic impact of anxiety on health care costs and productivity, anxiety is undoubtedly a formidable foe for workplaces in the United States.”

What this likely means is that employers have to consider solutions to workplace anxiety problems differently for different demographics.

Also see: 3 ways financial stress affects your company

Millennials, for example, report the highest levels of anxiety at intake, according to BDA data. Approximately 30% of millennials using BDA’s EAP reported experiencing anxiety. Anxiety appears to decline slightly with age as Gen X and baby boomers were less likely to report anxiety. Overall, anxiety accounted for 27% of EAP users during this period of time.

Generation Y, meanwhile, report the highest levels of absenteeism with boomers reporting the least amount. Absenteeism appears to decrease in a linear fashion with age. Generational differences in attitudes toward work may help explain these differences. 

Presenteeism is the highest reported job impact of anxiety, according to BDA data, with over 60% of employees with anxiety reporting it as a concern.

Also see: Workplace presenteeism is rampant

Baby boomers were the most likely to report conflict in their relationships at work. Compared to Gen Y, baby boomers were twice as likely to have declines in workplace relationships due to anxiety. And, similar to declines in relationships at work, boomers were most likely to report incidents of disciplinary action due to anxiety.

Employers may want to consider additional training to help managers “detect the hidden signs and symptoms of anxiety and challenges of today’s multi-generational strategies,” says BDA.

Also see: 11 tips for communicating, engaging with Generations X and Y

Joel Kranc is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario.

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