The effect of workplace anxiety on job performance is closely connected to the quality of relationships between employees, their bosses and their co workers, said researchers from the University of Toronto Scarborough.

To reach this conclusion, professors Julie McCarthy and John Trougakos, along with Bonnie Cheng from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, explored the effects of workplace anxiety among officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), a national police service. They found that anxiety can lead to lower job performance.

"Workplace anxiety is a serious concern not only for employee health and well being, but also for an organisation's bottom-line," said Trougakos, an expert on organizational behaviour. Police officers, like all of us, have a finite amount of resources they can draw on to cope with the demands of their job."If these resources are depleted then high levels of workplace anxiety will lead to emotional exhaustion," added McCarthy, an expert on work life integration and stress management.

The study that surveyed 267 RCMP officers from across Canada also found that the quality of relationships officers have with their peers and supervisors can help reduce the potentially harmful effects of workplace anxiety. Supervisors and co workers who are empathetic and provide emotional support by listening to their peers go a long way in fostering a positive work environment.

These kinds of strong interpersonal relations are built on high levels of understanding and trust, which allow individual needs to be met. "Our findings highlight the importance of programmes that allow employees to recover, build resilience and develop strong social support networks in the workplace," she noted.

The research is published in the forthcoming Journal of Applied Psychology.

 

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