Anxiety can pop up for all sorts of reasons – from workload pressures to team dynamics and even personal stuff. As leaders, while it’s not our job to be therapists, it is on us to figure out work-related triggers and create an environment where our team feels supported and ready to tackle anything.

Let’s explore key strategies for understanding anxiety triggers, leading by example with vulnerability and self-care, sharing valuable mental health resources, and consistently monitoring progress and feedback.

Understand what triggers anxiety in employees

  • Is it their workload? Consider holding frequent check-ins with your team and individual employees about their workload. In addition to the volume of work, check in about the work itself – whether it interests your employee, plays to their strengths, and whether they are equipped with the right tools and training to succeed.
  • Is it the team dynamic? Are your employees set up for successful collaboration? Ask individuals whom they work well with and what types of tasks or projects they prefer to collaborate on versus work on independently.
  • Is it unrelated to work? Strive to lead holistically, considering the whole employee rather than just the part that contributes to the workplace. If you are sensing anxiety from an employee, it could be unrelated to work – perhaps an event they are dealing with in their personal life or a chronic condition. While it’s important to maintain and respect professional boundaries, leaders can foster an environment in which employees feel comfortable disclosing whatever personal challenges they may be facing.
  • Is it you? This can be tough to examine, and even tougher to accept if it ends up being true: Your style of leadership may not work with some employees, and that’s okay. When in doubt, check in with yourself. Are you communicating in a way that motivates them, or could you be subconsciously instilling fear? Remember, people perform better and are more motivated when reminded of their strengths, autonomy, and value to the team.

Lead by example by being vulnerable and encouraging self-care

As a leader, one of the most powerful ways to support anxious employees is by leading by example. This means being vulnerable yet balanced, and actively encouraging self-care within your team.

Normalize discussions around anxiety, stress, and well-being. When in doubt, initiate these conversations by asking open-ended questions about your team’s lives and well-being. Remember, generic questions like “How is everyone?” often come across as a formality – a question that could encourage the sometimes dishonest answer: “Well.”

Further, your leadership title does not exclude you from contributing to these discussions. Let your employees see who you are as a person. The less robotic and “perfect” you seem, the more approachable you will be. This means you will be leading a team that feels comfortable coming to you with their work-related anxiety, thus allowing for more painless and efficient problem-solving. Which builds trust, the cornerstone of any healthy team.

Research and share resources for mental health

In supporting anxious employees, consider partnering with specialized mental health organizations to offer counseling services and workshops, strengthening your organization’s support infrastructure. Show your team you care by curating and sharing credible mental health resources like articles and online forums, fostering a culture of well-being.

If applicable, provide middle managers with training on recognizing signs of anxiety and facilitating open conversations, empowering them to support employees effectively. Remember, while it’s vital to provide resources, your role isn’t that of a therapist; encourage professional help when needed.

Monitor progress and feedback

Consider integrating well-being checkpoints into your team’s schedule, taking extra care to keep them from falling by the wayside. Consistency and persistence are indicators of authentic dedication to employee health.

Use standardized methods like anonymous feedback surveys to ask questions about anxiety levels at work, allowing employees to share what part of their work causes the most stress so you can offer possible solutions.

By prioritizing standardized feedback, you create a structured and consistent approach to supporting employees’ mental health and optimizing their work environment.


Creating a mentally healthy workplace isn’t a one-and-done. Keep the conversation going by demonstrating an ongoing commitment to this important component of leading your team.


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