This informal CPD article, ‘Anxiety at work: 10 top tips as to how leaders can be more inclusive with social and networking events’, was provided by Ruth Cooper-Dickson at Champs Consulting, who support organisations globally delivering mental health first aid training, stress-free living workshops and wellbeing consultancy solutions.
From the work that I do and my own lived experience, anxiety and anxiety disorders are often seen by many as being the acceptable end of the spectrum of mental ill health conditions. However, for those of us living with these mental health conditions, we know how debilitating and life changing they can be.
- In the UK, over 8 million people are experiencing an anxiety disorder at any one time (Mental Health UK, 2022).
- An estimated 822,000 workers are affected by work-related stress, depression, or anxiety every year (Health and Safety Executive, 2022).
Since experiencing the pandemic and the lockdowns we endured, the return to in-person events for many can feel extremely overwhelming. Whether it is the noise and the intensity of stimulation, the amount of people in a room and at times going up to strangers and making small-talk conversation. With many colleagues now hybrid or remote working, the faces are not always familiar, or the relationships not as established. As a positive psychology and wellbeing practitioner, I have been hearing a lot from employees that work social events often don’t consider how colleagues might feel quite anxious before attending.
Top 10 tips to create inclusive work social events
Here are 10 top tips for leaders to create inclusive work social events which might help reduce anxiety of team members. I hope you find these useful.
1) Be intentional when structuring events outside of business hours. Consider the timing of the events for people with commitments (e.g., caring, child-care). Women particularly may not feel comfortable travelling alone late at night so consider the safety of others.
2) Organise more day events that are informal and allow people to relax and connect with each other in small groups.
3) Ensure there is someone from the team at the venue first to welcome everyone as they arrive. Don’t move on to a new venue until everyone has arrived.
4) For evening events if people are travelling alone, offer opportunities for people to buddy up at travel points for before and after the event.
5) Find spaces which allow for people to step-away if it is noisy to speak and connect, without them having to shout, or not be heard. This is also inclusive for those who may be hearing impaired.