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Covid heightens fears of making a mistake among capital workers

Study reveals workers are uncomfortable with seeing themselves on Zoom and hate making calls

Adult employees in the capital are working in fear and scared of making a mistake at work a recent poll shows.  The survey, commissioned by Feel Good Contacts, revealed some of the many concerns faced by London workers.

The study highlighted issues with work-related communications. Despite more than six months of Zoom meetings, almost one-fifth of capital-based employees are still uncomfortable with being on a video call, seeing and hearing themselves on screen and being in a virtual room full of people staring at their face. A fifth don’t want to talk on the phone, they would prefer to send an email.

In a climate of uncertainty, where workers are feeling on edge as we enter a second lockdown, a fifth are anxious about working with difficult colleagues.  But, it’s not just internal relations that are a concern, 20% are nervous about dealing with antagonistic customers or clients.

Not surprisingly, almost a quarter (24%) of respondents are scared about losing their job as the UK plunges into economic recession for the first time in 11 years. With such worries, it’s understandable that 23% of respondents are too nervous to ask for extra support with a heavy workload and a further 23% of working adults are anxious about seeking help with a difficult task. Almost one fifth said that, in the current climate, they would dread facing their boss in a performance review and a similar number said that they would be too anxious to ask for a pay rise. Finally, 23% are worried about being expected to work out of hours.

Acacia Johnson, human resources advisor at Feel Good Contacts says: “With job losses on the increase, even the most productive workers do not feel immune. Understandably, feelings of self-doubt plague employees. ‘I’m going to fail. I can’t work this out. I’m not up to the job. Everyone’s going to see me screw up. It’s only a matter of time before…..’ are just some of the thoughts going through the minds of anxious staff.  With this attitude, some people are working extra hard to deliver over and above what is expected of them to keep their job safe. Others are keeping their heads under the parapet; they don’t want to be noticed, voice their opinions and get the blame if anything goes wrong.”

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

Business psychologist Jan P de Jonge explains: “Neither approach is ideal. By playing it safe, you are stifling creativity and innovation and not producing your best work.  You’re more likely to fail by resisting than engaging. Instead, try to adopt a growth mindset and see challenges as a way to develop, rather than as a threat. Modern day culture promotes wellbeing. So we really need to focus on what that wellbeing means, which is being accepting of imperfection. If things go wrong, use it to create opportunities to learn and develop. This may be a little bit counterintuitive, especially when we live in society that always tells us to do well.”

De Jonge adds: “Decades ago, people all had to gradually get used to the phone, being available, accessible from afar and at the turn of a few buttons. Now it feels like the working population – and others besides – are suddenly compelled to be visible online, representable, on-cue and on-message. But an ‘always on’ approach won’t help you to perform any better in your job in the long run. If you’re checking your emails 24/7 to stay ahead of the game, you won’t be coming to work feeling fresh and raring to start the day, plus you will always be distracted.”

He concludes: “It’s worth remembering that if you always reply to emails immediately, the sender will think you have nothing better to do. So, ask yourself: will anyone care or even notice if you take some time to respond? This approach is better for your health. In fact, studies have found that people who were allowed to check their Inbox only three times a day had lower levels of stress compared with those who were allowed unlimited access to email.”

With these concerns in mind, Feel Good Contacts and business psychologist Jan P De Jonge at People Business Psychology have produced a Work Worries Toolkit to help you to tackle some of the issues you face at work.

The nationwide study of 2,000 UK employees was conducted by OnePoll.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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