Small doses of anxiety in the workplace can make us BETTER at our jobs

We've all been told that anxiety can ruin performance.

But according to a new study, small doses of it at work can make you better at your job by keeping you focused and motivated. 

A total lack of anxiety in the workplace, while perhaps rare, may even lead to an unmotivated workforce, researchers claim.

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Workers who overcome their anxiety and channel it into their jobs may make more effective employees, research suggests. While severe levels of unease can be demotivating, more manageable doses can drive productivity, experts say (stock image)

Workers who overcome their anxiety and channel it into their jobs may make more effective employees, research suggests. While severe levels of unease can be demotivating, more manageable doses can drive productivity, experts say (stock image)

The findings were made by researchers are the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTS), who looked at both the triggers of workplace anxiety and also its relationship to employee performance. 

If employees are constantly distracted or thinking about things that are causing them anxiety, it will prevent them from completing tasks at work and that can eventually lead to exhaustion and burnout, they found.

But, in certain situations, anxiety can boost performance by helping employees focus and self-regulate their behaviour, they say.

Co-author Julie McCarthy, from the department of management at UTS, said: 'If you have too much anxiety, and you're completely consumed by it, then it's going to derail your performance.

'On the other hand, moderate levels of anxiety can facilitate and drive performance.'

Experts compare this to athletes who are trained to harness anxiety in order to remain motivated and stay on task.

Likewise, if employees engage in something called self-regulatory processing - that is, monitoring their progress on a task and focusing their efforts toward performing that task - it can help boost their performance. 

Lead author Bonnie Hayden Cheng, now an assistant professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, says that work-anxious employees who are motivated are more likely to harness anxiety in order to help them focus on their tasks. 

Those who are emotionally intelligent, can recognise their feelings of anxiety and use it to regulate their performance, as well as those who are experienced and skilled at their job, are also less likely to have anxiety affect their performance. 

In certain situations, anxiety can boost performance by helping employees focus and self-regulate their behaviour, experts say. These more moderate feelings of anxiety can helps workers keep their focus on the task at hand and stay motivated

In certain situations, anxiety can boost performance by helping employees focus and self-regulate their behaviour, experts say. These more moderate feelings of anxiety can helps workers keep their focus on the task at hand and stay motivated

WHAT ARE THE MAIN TRIGGERS OF WORKPLACE ANXIETY AND HOW CAN WE ADDRESS THEM?

Experts from the University of Toronto Scarborough say the most prominent causes of workplace anxiety include jobs that require constant expression or suppression of emotion - think 'service with a smile' - as well as jobs with constant looming deadlines or frequent organisational change.

Office politics and control over work are other important factors. Employee characteristics including age, gender and job tenure can

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