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How to manage the 7 biggest workplace fears

Sarah K. White | July 29, 2016
Everyone's experienced some level of stress at work, and chances are, it's stemmed from one of these seven workplace fears. However, managers can ease those fears.


Performance at work can sometimes be subjective -- you might have one employee who seemingly outperforms other workers, but is it because they are so worried about their performance that they go home and log on for three extra hours each night and on the weekends? Similarly, you can't compare a seasoned well-trained employee with one who is still new to the game and learning the ropes to work towards becoming an expert.

But even if performance is difficult to measure -- it's still something everyone is worried about. Managers should give consistent and reliable feedback to employees so they always know where they stand. Even if they're over performing, you want to make sure you avoid potential burnout scenarios with your employees as well.

Varelas says employees should feel comfortable and confident at work, so when a new project pops up, they won't hesitate to take it on. She also notes that any new skill is like a muscle so always have realistic expectations for how long it might take an employee to gain confidence when learning something new.


Just like a fear of embarrassment might hold your employees back from exercising their full potential so will a fear of a rejection. Valeras says that this attitude often stems from feeling undervalued at work, or not knowing exactly where you stand. If an employee isn't completely sure that their idea or opinion at the very least will be valued and considered, they are more likely to keep their mouths shut.

Managers need to ensure they foster collaborative cultures that helps support new ideas and opinions from even the most entry-level person in your department. And avoid only creating opportunities for your favorite employees -- every employee needs to see their own value in order to grow and flourish within the company.

Change and uncertainty

Big company changes can often take employees by surprise. Sudden and swift changes can create a sense of uncertainty for employees who might wonder what else they don't know or what types of changes could surprise them in the future.

The only solution, says Valeras, is to over-communicate and be completely transparent with your employees whenever you can. "As a manager you have most likely been dealing with topics of change for a significant period of time before change is introduced to employees. Work hard to be transparent about change, keep an open door for reassurance of employees, and answer the same questions many times without annoyance," she says.


Your work space can feel small if you're suddenly faced with an in-office confrontation, especially if it's with a manager or someone higher on the totem pole. A fear of confrontation also circles back to the idea that employees want to avoid any negative emotions at work.


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