Create a welcoming environment
Work environments often dictate the overall mood of the workforce. Cluttered spaces and unpleasant attitudes can contribute to an employee’s anxiety or depression; therefore, employers may wish to discourage these and other unsavoury behaviours. The best way to promote a positive and supportive work environment is by behaving in such a manner. Employers can endeavour to keep the workplace clean and organized. Additionally, employers may make an effort to be more positive around employees and avoid using language or attitudes that indicate a harsh tone.
Have an open-door policy
Employees should feel comfortable going to their employers to discuss issues they are having at work. When employees communicate their concerns, the workplace can morph into a community, rather than just a place that gives a paycheck. Furthermore, open communication enables employers to become better equipped to take action to mitigate any problems.
In some instances, no matter how welcoming a place may be, employees may not want to divulge information about their mental health. Employers who are educated on traits and behaviour that are typically associated with anxiety or depression, such as reduced productivity, nervousness, and poor interpersonal relationships, can take action without forcing the employee into the uncomfortable position of taking the first step.
Employers may respond in a variety of ways when an employee goes to them about his or her mental illness, or when they notice employees demonstrating behaviour associated with a mental illness. Employers should take mental illness seriously, and take steps to encourage additional communication with the individual employee so that appropriate accommodations can be made.
As with any other health condition, once an employer becomes aware of an employee’s mental health, the employer should take all necessary steps in order to ensure that the employee’s information remains confidential. Not only will this increase the employee’s trust in the employer, but it will also help make the employee feel comfortable and supported.
Make a plan
Employers can sit down with employees to discuss possible courses of action that would best enable the employee to continue performing his or her duties. By talking with the employee, an employer can gain an understanding of the employee’s concerns without making assumptions; and therefore, develop a plan that will balance the needs of both parties.
An employer can also include what they expect from their employee when a plan of action is created. Giving an employee a concrete idea of what is expected enables employers to help curb anxiety and prevent confusion by providing a measure of predictability.
Be flexible. Employees who have anxiety or depression can experience days where their symptoms are worse than others. Because of this, they might sometimes need additional time for assignments or adjustments in their workload. Employers can emphasize that modifications are available on a limited basis, but that they are granted with the expectation that the employee will make his or her best efforts to return to the original plan once better.
Provide constructive feedback
Employers may wish to provide additional feedback to employees with anxiety or depression because it can help manage goals and expectations. Unfortunately, reviews might also increase an employee’s level of anxiety. In order to make reviews a more positive experience, it is especially important for employers to focus on things the employee is doing well and provide ways that certain tasks can be improved upon, rather than simply stating that something needs improvement.
Employers need to be supportive and empathetic of their employees’ situations. Demonstrating concern and approaching situations with understanding can have a great impact on an employee’s overall condition and attitude towards work.
As much as each person’s disability and needs and limitations should always be treated on an individual basis the stressors and unique rituals or behaviours for someone suffering from OCD or an anxiety disorder will vary from person to person and workplace.
As an employer, it is important to set up your workplace with the above in mind but the best thing you can do is have a conversation with your employee and develop a plan with them and their limitations and needs in mind. A great guide is provided by the Human Rights Commission found here.