Why Might Employees Experience Fear in Your Workplace?

in Business

If you run your own business, you probably employ people to work for you. And if you do have employees, you will probably be used to a whole range of different attitudes as they come into work. Some of them will be happy and excited about the prospect of the working day. Others will be less than ecstatic, perhaps because their job is interfering with their social lives. And there will be a whole range of other emotions. One of these could be fear!

Of course, you may assume that fear is the last emotion that your employees might experience. This is especially true if you are trying to create a stable and rewarding work environment. But as you can read below, there are instances when fear could be a problem for the people that work for you.

These are the reasons why employees might experience fear in your workplace.

#1: The fear of being unsafe

We all like to feel safe. But when our safety is threatened, we can all start to feel afraid, especially when there is a risk of serious bodily harm. So, how does this relate to your workplace?

Well, are the premises in tip-top condition? Have all necessary safety checks been done across your building? Are your employees trained in the skills needed to operate potentially dangerous machinery? Do your employees have to deal with clients who may be volatile? Is there sufficient lighting outside for employees who leave work in the dark? Could there be instances of workplace bullying taking place? Your employees may fear for their safety for any one of these reasons.

As the employer, you need to do all you can to make your employees feel safe. You should risk assess everything, make essential repairs, and bring in outside help, such as those who can provide commercial fire alarm maintenance. You should ensure employees are well-trained to deal with any situation that could be considered dangerous and take the appropriate measures to protect them. You should also be alert to the signs of workplace bullying and if spotted, you should take the appropriate action to stamp it out.

There may be other reasons why your employees may feel unsafe so talk to them, and get to know what could be driving this fear.

#2: Fear of failure

Some employees will set themselves high expectations. They will want to work to the best of their abilities, to please not only themselves but you as well. Should they fail in some way, perhaps by missing targets that you or they have set, they will beat themselves up about it and feel terrible.

Of course, it might be your expectations that are driving this fear. If you are known to berate your employees when mistakes are made, it’s understandable that your employees will feel afraid. They will be scared of your reaction, be that a firm telling off, a nasty comment, or even the threat of dismissal.

To manage this fear, there are a number of things you can do as an employer. You can assign tasks that you know your employees will be capable of, as this way, there will be a reduced chance of them failing. You can also provide training so your employees are equipped to do the jobs you have asked them to do. And you can also watch your own attitude. If an employee screws up, and there is a good reason for them doing so, you can be kinder with your approach. Find out what went wrong, offer advice, and give them the practical support they need to do better.

#3: The fear of embarrassment

Women hiding her face with her hands

The fear of embarrassment also stems from the fear of doing something wrong. For your employees, it might be when they are asked to speak at staff meetings. Or it might be when they are asked to showcase a product or service at a public venue. They may be afraid of ‘putting their foot in it,’ by saying or doing the wrong thing. The fear of embarrassment can lead to fears of rejection and fears of being laughed at. It can also lead to the fear of not being good enough. That’s an awful lot of fears for one person to manage!

You can help your employees overcome this fear. By preparing them for what they need to do, they will have less fear if there is less chance of them screwing up. You can also be considerate of who you ask to do certain tasks. If you suspect somebody will be riddled with fear when asked to do something that could lead to embarrassment, you could pick a more confident team member. These are just a couple of the things you can do, but you can also create a workplace environment that favours encouragement and moral support for those that do make mistakes. This should also reduce the fear of embarrassment for some.

#4: Fear of change

Change isn’t always a bad thing. It can help us to adapt, grow, and learn new skills. This can apply to the workplace, such as when employees are asked to take on new roles. However, it can still breed fear so this is something that you need to be considerate of.

If employees are constantly being surprised by changes to their job descriptions or working patterns, it is understandable that may feel afraid. They will be afraid of the unexpected, the fear of not being able to cope, and the possibility that at any moment, their comfort zones could be removed. The same applies to big company changes, especially when there might be a risk of redundancy as a consequence.

As the employer, it is your job to prepare your employees for change well in advance. This is better than dropping a bombshell on them at any given moment, such as telling an employee that they will have to move to a different department. Telling them early will give them time to process the changes that are to come. And you will be able to answer any questions your employees have to provide some level of reassurance.

Fear: It’s something we are all used to but we can take steps to manage this emotion. And where your employees are concerned, you can take steps to help them manage it too. So, be on the lookout for fear in your workplace and do whatever is necessary to make life less scary for the people who work for you.


Image Credits: krakenimages, J Taubitz

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