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Voice of the Employee

With a second lockdown looming, 42% of UK working adults are working in fear, scared of making a mistake at work.  The nationwide poll, commissioned by Feel Good Contacts, of 2,000 employees revealed some of the many concerns faced by UK workers.

The study (conducted by OnePoll) highlighted issues linked to work related communications. Despite almost six months of Zoom meetings, one in six UK employees are still uncomfortable with being on a video call, seeing and hearing themselves on screen and being in a virtual room full of people staring at their face. Just over a fifth don’t want to talk on the phone, they’d rather send an email.

In a climate of uncertainty, where workers are feeling on edge as we enter a second lockdown, almost a quarter are anxious about working with difficult colleagues.  But it’s not just internal relations that are a concern, almost a quarter are nervous about dealing with antagonistic customers or clients.

Not surprisingly, almost three in ten respondents are scared about losing their job as the UK plunges into economic recession for the first time in 11 years. With such worries, it’s understandable that almost a fifth of respondents would be to too nervous to ask for extra support with a heavy workload and just under a sixth of working adults would be too anxious to seek help with a difficult task. Almost one fifth said that in the current climate, they would dread facing their boss in a performance review and the over one sixth said that they would be too afraid to ask for a pay rise.

Acacia Johnson, Human Resources Advisor at Feel Good Contacts commented: “With job losses on the increase, even the most productive workers do not feel immune. Understandably, feelings of self-doubt plague employees. ‘I’m going to fail. I can’t work this out. I’m not up to the job. Everyone’s going to see me screw up. It’s only a matter of time before…..’ are just some of the thoughts going through the minds of anxious staff.  With this attitude, some people are working extra hard to deliver over and above what is expected of them to keep their job safe. Others are keeping their heads under the parapet; they don’t want to be noticed, voice their opinions and get the blame if anything goes wrong.”

Business psychologist Jan P. de Jonge explains “Neither approach is ideal. By playing it safe, you are stifling creativity and innovation and not producing your best work.  You’re more likely to fail by resisting than engaging. Instead try to adopt a growth mindset and see challenges as a way to develop, rather than as a threat. Modern day culture promotes wellbeing.  So we really need to focus on what that wellbeing means, which is being accepting of imperfection.  If things go wrong, use it to create opportunities to learn and develop. This may be a little bit counterintuitive, especially when we live in society that always tells us to do well.”

Jan added: “Decades ago, people all had to gradually get used to the phone, being available, accessible from afar and at the turn of a few buttons. Now it feels like the working population – and others besides – are suddenly compelled to be visible online, representable, on-cue and on-message. But an ‘always on’ approach won’t help you to perform any better in your job in the long run. If you’re checking your emails 24/7 to stay ahead of the game, you won’t be coming to work feeling fresh and raring to start the day, plus you will always be distracted.”

Jan concluded: “It’s worth remembering that if you always reply to emails immediately, the sender will think you have nothing better to do. So, ask yourself: will anyone care or even notice if you take some time to respond?  This approach is better for your health. In fact, studies have found that people who were allowed to check their Inbox only three times a day had lower levels of stress compared to those who were allowed unlimited access to email.”

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