April 6, 2021
Jacki Hart Last month, a group of Landscape Ontario Peer To Peer Network members got together online at our “Wildcard” Zoom Connect Lounge and talked about the sources of anxiety within their businesses. We spent well over an hour discussing strategies to recognize, manage and mitigate anxiety and stress.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has created increased incidence of anxiety for many — whether at work or at home, there remains a shocking number of employees, managers and owners in our midst who are either silently or openly struggling with anxiety — either with or without Covid in the mix.

Anxiety appears in many forms. Here are some challenges we discussed:

If new employees don’t show up for their first day, or shortly there-after in your company, then take a step back and look at what their experience has been since they were hired. What information have they been given in advance? What have you or others in your company done to make them feel welcome? Do they know in advance what to expect and how to prepare for day one? Is there someone for them to check in with if they’re nervous? Is there someone to encourage them? Did someone move them through day one with an eye on the new candidates’ level of stress? An absence of special attention to these factors can lead to great potential candidates being de-railed before they’ve given the job a chance.

A lack of orientation to the company or meeting people before day-one due to Covid and virtual interviewing can lead to high anxiety on day one (and beyond). Our Peer Network member Darla Malcolm-Hauraney shared this great observation: “It’s tough to walk into your first day of a job, having been hired without ever meeting anyone in person, or having seen the layout of your workplace.”

Consider taking time with a new hire in advance of day one to ask them what they would like to know. Make sure they know in advance who to look for when they arrive, where to park or which bus will bring them to the closest stop. Ask what would make them comfortable on their first day? What are they nervous about? If they’ve never worked on a crew outdoors before, talk to them about what to bring in regards to lunch/snacks, how much they should bring, what to wear, how to be prepared and who to ask for when they arrive.

Whether a new employee or one who’s in a new role, it’s up to you to anticipate what they don’t know and be one step ahead of their sources of stress. It’s easy for new and returning staff to quickly become overwhelmed. This can lead to poor attendance and low retention. It’s hard to recover from feeling overwhelmed when the days are long.

Peer member Chloe Philip offered this great comment: “We all have to balance our output of energy with recovery time. Talk to staff who seem to be showing signs of being overwhelmed and check in with them. Are they taking care of themselves after work? How do they recharge their batteries? Are there ways you can help them move more smoothly through the day with less stress?

There are many among us who struggle with chronic anxiety. There are ways each workplace can adjust to accommodate this challenge with empathy.

Chronic anxiety is immobilizing. Another of our peer members, Dave Wildeboer, talked with the group about his experience as an employer to make space, both in his team’s set up and with his own expectations for members on his team who work hard to manage their levels of anxiety. Recognizing chronic anxiety, and being open about strategies to help staff who wrestle with it daily, is effective and it builds trust.

Be vulnerable. Let the team know you’re doing your best to help make their work and workplace as pleasant as possible, and that you might not have all the answers. Be open to their ideas.

Even employers have times of the season and situations that arise which cause them anxiety. Group members Thomas Seguin-Cousineau and Louise Seguin brought up this great point: “We get too anxious, especially mid-season if the team is short staffed and the roster is full.” They feel really anxious and frustrated when they are pushing extra work on everyone just to keep up with the client demand. They share their anxiety openly with the team, and feel they get support in return.

As the Peer Network facilitator, many in our group have heard me repeatedly say “Anxiety is the Millennial Curse.” When each employer and team recognizes that the statistics show there is someone in their midst (of any age) struggling with anxiety, then the conversations change and the entire culture becomes more supportive and responsive, with better outcomes for everyone.

Please, start the conversation about anxiety with your team.

Landscape Ontario member business owners can join the LO Peer to Peer Network for free.
To participate in private online discussions, email  signup.peer2peer@landscapeontario.com

Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager