Fear at work

There is an increasing body of evidence indicating that a number of us are fearful at work. For clarity, I am not referring to egrophobia which relates to the fear of work. Let me explain. Over the last few years, workplaces have experienced significant levels of turbulence. Much of this was brought on by the recession and led to organisations having to move into ‘survival’ mode.

Fear at work can take several forms such as worry about loss of employment, unfair treatment at work or perhaps a loss of status. Fear, which the dictionary describes as ‘an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm’, can be debilitating. It saps energy, can trigger weight gain or weight loss, and rob us of our sleep. Both men and women experience fearfulness. One of the unintended consequences of organisation changes such as large scale redundancy has been the impact on those that remain. Surveys indicate that many who survive job culls or dismissals for reasons of performance are envisioning a time when they will get a ‘tap on the shoulder’ indicating that they are next. Levels of anxiety are heightened.

Job security is important and when it is stripped away it can have a knock-on effect that touches every other area of our life. Zig Ziglar, one of the worlds’ top public speakers, uses a mnemonic for the word fear. He describes is as False Evidence Appearing Real. I like this. We can often become our own nemesis by imagining that something ghastly is going to happen when in fact nothing at all is going to occur. Sometimes, engaging a coach can help work through these feelings.

The other aspect, of course, is that it is vitally important in today’s world of work that we keep our skills and experience topped up. This will go a long way to keeping our value high. It also increases confidence that in the event something untoward happens in our career, there is a good chance we can be re-engaged elsewhere.

Finally: Have you heard about our Confident Communication Skills for Introverts workshop? You can see details here.

All best and have a great month

Helen RobinsonCareer