While leaders work hard to not show that they are afraid or overwhelmed, employees bond together and talk about how “stressed” they are and how stressful the workload is.
It’s much more acceptable to feel “nervous” or “stressed” than to admit one is afraid. These words have become a catchall for various fears that remain unnamed. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in Canada with 2 in 3 sufferers being women (Public Health Agency of Canada, The human face of mental health and mental illness in Canada).
Individuals with anxiety disorders experience greater functional disability than individuals with common physical disorders (i.e. arthritis, high blood pressure).
The human and economic costs of anxiety disorders in the workplace are profound.
Anxiety among the employed is linked with both absenteeism and diminished productivity (presenteeism).
When you take into account the direct costs of anxiety in terms of medication, physician visits, the indirect costs, such as decreased productivity, and the
intangible costs (e.g. pressure on the remaining employees who have to make up for the productivity lost by the person with anxiety), the total cost of anxiety is enormous.
Estimates in Canada place it as high as $35 billion dollars. (Health Canada. Assessing the Costs of Workplace Stress). Still, no one is talking about fear as the root cause of this phenomenal loss of human productivity and how to identify and address underlying fears in employees.