HR Essay Example: Defense Against Anxiety in Workplace

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Middlebury College
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When an employee suffers too much anxiety at the workplace, it may affect his or her performance. Occasionally, anxiety at the place of work is frequently overlooked or thought to be an indication of feebleness. It is important to address this problem before it escalates and becomes unmanageable. While having the right amount of anxiety will most certainly improve work performance of the employees, if they experience high levels of anxiety, it will have an adverse effect on their job. Therefore, the managers of an organization need to be aware of the anxiety levels of their employees, to create an environment that will have the most appropriate effect on the employees' performance. Thus, the focus of this paper is to outline the different ways organizational employees defend themselves against anxiety and critically analyses how models of supervision can support individuals and organizations working through anxiety.

Scope of Anxiety in Organizations

More than often, an individual may develop a sense of anxiety when they feel that they are about to encounter a situation whereby they have no control of the outcome. In the workplace setting, due to various situations such as mergers and acquisitions, an employee may feel anxious because he is afraid that a merger means that he will be laid off from work. Managers or organizational leaders need to always be on the lookout and check on ways in which people will be able to manifest their anxiety (Ahmed &Broussine, 2008). According to Beddoe (2010), there is the stereotypical notion that most people, who are anxious, are the ones who are mostly tensed or agitated. However, this is a misleading and over the simplistic concept of an individual who is tensed. Anxiety normally has various physiological, emotional, cognitive, and even motor effects. The physiological effects of anxiety include sweaty hands, headaches, muscle stiffness, tightness of breath and even frequent urination. The cognitive consequences of a person experiencing anxiety can be memory loss and the inability of a person to focus or either process information. For instance, when an individual becomes anxious, he may experience trouble understanding or following simple instructions (Beddoe, 2010). Emotional reactions can be one of the best ways to determine that a person is anxious. Anxious individuals lose their tempers quickly or even become socially withdrawn. They are unable to deal with the situation that has made them anxious. Besides, when people are anxious, their motor skills are also affected thus, they tend to drop and break things.

According to Coppard (2012), in every 13 individuals in the world, one of them suffers from anxiety. The findings were as a result of a study that was conducted in 91 countries and involved more than 480,000 respondents in the year 2012. The results make it vital for the management of organizations to be equipped with adequate skills to offer support to their staff members who may be experiencing various mental health problems.

Beddoe (2010) suggests that a three-pronged strategy can be useful when it comes to dealing with an employee who experiences anxiety at the workplace. It is designed in such a way that it promotes the well-being of all the staff members in an organization, tackle the causes that generate anxiety at the workplace, and support the employees who are exhibiting signs of anxiety. At the workplace, most of the employees feel uncomfortable when it comes to opening up about their mental issues (Beddoe, 2010). However, with this strategy in place, it ensures that all the staff members in an organization feel that they are comfortable in talking about or discussing the mental challenges that they face in the workplace. The strategy also dictates that it is the employer's duty to make justified adjustments to ensure that the problems that the employee has identified are well-taken care-off, and ensure that they promote the employee's health and well-being. Some of the adjustments that can be made in the workplace include creating flexible working hours, having quiet rooms where an employee can go and collect his or her thoughts when he or she feels overwhelmed at the workplace, offering time-off for counseling and therapy sessions. For the organizations that prioritize staff well-being, they are sending out a message to their employees that the organization takes care of its people (Beddoe, 2011).

Personal Experience of how Organizations Defend against Anxiety

The first step that organizations can undertake when using this strategy is through the creation of an open and honest culture. As was noted in the introduction section, there are various signs that the management team can look for in their employees to know whether they are experiencing anxiety disorders such as through different cognitive or motor skills effects (Beddoe, 2011). In such cases, they can regularly check on the employees who are affected, greet them and compliment the little things that they have done right in the workplace. It is meant to encourage them, and build their confidence, ensuring that they feel that they have some form of control in a situation that was affecting them previously.

The organization I work for has an open door policy. When the system was introduced, it was meant to encourage transparency and openness. However, later on, it became apparent that the policy was serving other functions apart from the initial purpose. The policy had created working relationships that enabled a superior to approach a subordinate of a subordinate to approach a superior to discuss issues that employees experienced. Anxiety was top among these conversations, and it was considered a way to rid the issue from an individual. Apparently, talking to another person about the problem was a first and practical step in making one defend themselves against anxiety.

Another important step that should be undertaken for people who are experiencing anxiety is reducing stressful situations. Stress can lead to the anxiety becoming worse, and they are more susceptible to stressful situations. The management team can come up with a list of potential triggers to stress, and the measures that can be undertaken to manage the impact of the stress (Bradbury-Jones, 2013). It is also important to note that for people who are experiencing anxiety, they are more prone to feel pressure from their work. Therefore, plans can be put in place at the workplace to provide them with regular breaks throughout the day, to give them enough time when they feel that they are under pressure.

The organization I work for now is quite proactive in eliminating stressful situations among its employees. The organization has a trained in-house counselor who works under the human resource department who employees approach for counseling sessions when they are experiencing stressful situations. Based on the advisor's recommendations, appropriate measures meant at reducing an external source of stress are communicated to the head of the HR department which implements them. Some of the recommendation include the provision of personal time off and designation of light duties.

There are organizations where its personnel employs splitting, projection, and introjection as defense mechanisms in dealing with anxiety. They use a combination of the three tactics to deal with their anxiety. The psychoanalytical theory is credited to providing an all-encompassing explanation of the systems psychodynamic approach. Attachment to work from a psychoanalytical point of view is the gratification both from conscious and unconscious fantasies that are achieved through employment. Moreover, Kleins Object Relations theory can be used to show the psychodynamic perspective when it comes to organization systems (Garrett, 2009). The theory states that human beings are primarily motivated by the desire for contact with other individuals. The theory implies that people use each other to create a sense of stability in their lives.

An essential element that shapes and justifies the systems psychodynamic perspective is when organizations are viewed as open systems. By stating that these agencies are an open system, it means that they are only in existence if they facilitate a fruitful exchange of materials with the environment (Goddard & Hunt, 2011). Furthermore, open systems can be able to achieve their results using different means and routes. The open system framework contributed to the emergence of the group-as-a-whole perspective. This perception shows that when systems can operate as one, they end up forming a psychodynamic relation, which illustrates that no event can take place in isolation.

Studying organizational behavior and it justifies the reason why a psychodynamic approach is employed. An organization can be viewed as a system that has life-conscious and unconscious (Hinselwood & Skogstad, 2000). It also has subsystems that relate with one another. Although most people study the conscious aspect of an organization to try to understand it, when people focus on the unconscious dimension of an organization, they can get a deeper understanding of the organizational behavior of that company.

Basic Assumptions about the Psychodynamic of an Organization

When studying organizational dynamics, the following three assumptions are usually considered: the employee (micro system), department, or division of an organization (mesosystem), and the organization itself is regarded as the macro-system. Based on these assumptions, the following aspects will be put into consideration, to have a better understanding of the organization and various dynamics that typically come into play when dealing with anxiety. Bions (1961) theory of group behavior forms the basis of Tavistock model. Bion regarded a group to be a separate, but also a collective entity. People frequently form a group for an individual purpose in which they all believe in and therefore their alliance will ensure that the beliefs they hold on to are preserved for a longer period, than if they undertook the task of maintaining their beliefs as individuals (Horwath & Morrison, 2011). Therefore, the primary responsibilities of groups are to ensure that there is survival. It is also important to point out that although groups form for a common objective, there are often unconscious hidden agendas generated by individuals that act as obstructions about achieving the team's tasks.

From a psychodynamic approach to understanding a group that is working within a certain system, it is important to note that there are two forces in the group- the group mentality, and the unconscious effort by an individual. The team mentality is usually focused on the task of the group, while the single force is focused on itself (Huffington, 2004). Therefore, to understand organizational behavior, it is important first to understand the inner-state. It is also important to understand that groups typically affect individual behavior less irrationally and visibly such as from an emotional point of view. It can, therefore, lead to anxiety, which causes the development of various defense mechanisms.

There are various propositions that an individual can assess using the psychodynamics of work. In this case, one of the possible reasons for anxiety can be alienated work relationships. At the workplace, tensions are controlled and managed through the development of social defenses, which normally de-personalize relationships, and hurt the ability of a group to be able to complete its task. The common arguments also affect the relationship between the team and the environment and ensure that the workers reduce their anxiety by blaming the environmental factors of the organization (Ingram, 2012). The group development and therefore an organization achieving its objectives is reliant...

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