Managing organisational anxiety


The King’s Fund is looking for individuals who are responsible for workplace wellbeing in health and care organisations to join a year-long learning group to drill into just what is involved with taking a holistic view of worker anxiety across the organisation, and what leaders are (or aren’t) doing about it.

Working in health and care can give rise to a range of emotions. While caring for people who are suffering or dying can be immensely rewarding, people may also experience more difficult feelings, such as grief, fear, anger or shame, as they care for people going through the sometimes life-changing impact of illness. Add to this the current challenges of ongoing resource constraints, increasing workload, long-term staff shortages, the impact of the pandemic and challenges regarding pay and conditions and the scene is set for anxiety in the forms of workplace stress, exhaustion, moral injury and burnout. 

The ability of individuals to cope will vary tremendously. Those who are not able to maintain perspective and moderate their distress might turn to strategies such as denial, withdrawal or substance misuse that provide short-term relief but which don’t actually help longer term. This can be problematic, adversely affecting impacting the individual’s wellbeing, but also leading to problems within their workplace and society, with increased errors and absenteeism for instance reducing the potential to provide high quality care. 

Accepting that there is a need for leaders to be concerned with containing anxiety within their organisation, the King’s Fund wants to drill into this approach in more detail, specifically examining the role of organisational interventions as being as effective (if not more effective) than interventions targeted at supporting individuals. Such interventions might include providing adequate resources such as a suitable environment to help staff feel valued, providing spaces for people to process the impact of their work and developing leadership and management approaches that are thoughtful about containing anxiety.

The King’s Fund wants to bring together a representative group of 8–10 people who are responsible for workplace wellbeing in health and care organisations to explore these issues, learn from each other, and experiment with what is possible. Interested? There’s more information and a form to complete (by Friday, May 31) to express an interest on the King’s Fund website

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