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How to Manage Employees With High Functioning Anxiety

young woman working at laptop clutching her temples while overcome with anxiety and stress

What are some of the things CEOs need to be aware of when it comes to employees with high functioning anxiety?

It is important to distinguish the difference between a generalized anxiety disorder and a high functioning anxiety disorder. As with most mental health diagnosis, generalized anxiety disorder requires symptoms to interfere with one’s activities of daily living for a prolonged period of time. In high functioning anxiety one of the symptoms is the inability to let your anxiety interfere with your activities of daily living, to the point of feeling the need to do everything perfectly all the time.

Does this type of anxiety make them any less capable of performing at a high level?

Absolutely not! Some employees with high functioning anxiety will excel at high level tasks and projects due to their tendency to be perfectionists and desire to go beyond the expectations set before them. Most individuals with high functioning anxiety present as outgoing, detail-oriented, and can foresee potential issues that others may easily overlook because of their inclination to over plan and think through all potential outcomes. 

What are some management techniques or recommendations you can share?

The best manager for an employee with high functioning anxiety is someone that is able to show appreciation for the work they are putting in while also being able to recognize early on when they are putting more pressure on themselves than is necessary or healthy. Individuals with high functioning anxiety can be prone to burn out, overanalyzing relatively simple instructions, or allowing their anxiety and planning to get in the way of actually completing tasks.

Does managing someone with high functioning anxiety impact your confidence in their ability to lead a team and/or deliver high-quality work?

With attentive managers, clear expectations, and an organizational focus on self-care an individual with high functioning anxiety can thrive at work and be an amazing supervisor. In a supervisory role it is important to clearly outline their expectations and to make them aware that they cannot expect everyone to meet the same high standards they put on themselves. They need a competent team that can deliver high quality work but more importantly one that can help them focus on slowing down and appreciating the successes as they happen. 

What are some resources out there for high functioning anxiety?

There are a lot of things that someone with high functioning anxiety can do to manage their symptoms including: allowing themselves time to stop and appreciate their accomplishments, differentiating anxious thoughts from expectations and committing to regular self-care. Some other external options include talking with an individual clinician to better understand where their anxiety stems from, how to set healthy work boundaries or joining an outpatient program that focuses on anxiety in a group setting Be sure to look for us in the December edition of D CEO Magazine! For more information, contact us at Connections Wellness Group today.