According to researchers, anxiety in the workplace can affect job performance, drawing on the quality of relationships between co-workers and their bosses.

In a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Julie McCarthy, John Trougakos and Bonnie Cheng explored how workplace anxiety affects officers from the national police service Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Based on their findings, the researchers saw that workplace anxiety can emotionally exhaust subjects and cause them to perform poorly in their jobs.

"Workplace anxiety is a serious concern not only for employee health and well-being, but also for an organization's bottom-line," said Trougakos.

Being a police officer is naturally stressful because not only does the RCMP have to confront crime scenes, victims of death and abuse and violent offenders, but they also experience public scrutiny. It is quite a challenging role particularly when public service and protection is the focus.

However, McCarthy explained that police officers draw on the same resources as anyone to cope with the demands of their jobs. When these resources dwindle, workplace anxiety starts to rise, paving the way for emotional exhaustion which will ultimately affect performance on the job when not addressed.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 267 officers from the RCMP across Canada and drew on the Conservation of Resources Theory and social exchange theories to test and advance frameworks. They found that as poor relationships contributed to workplace anxiety, good relationships among peers and involving superiors can contribute towards reducing tension as co-workers and supervisors who show empathy and offer emotional support by lending a listening ear foster positivity in the workplace.

The results of the study highlight the importance of work programs that give employees the opportunity to recover, develop resilience and build strong support networks in the workplace, added McCarthy.

According to a survey, 41 percent of employees from various industries have high workplace anxiety. The researchers hope that through their work, more and more workplaces, not just those in high-stress jobs, will see the importance of strong social support. Many organizations have already made great effort in developing methods to address workplace anxiety so the goal is slowly but steadily being achieved.

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