Employees’ anxiety over meetings driving them to drink

Nearly half of UK workers admit to getting anxiety over meetings at work, as horrible bosses cause them grief.

UK office workers are suffering from daily anxiety over meetings at work, with some going to drastic lengths to cope, new research has revealed.

A shocking 48 per cent of employees in Britain claim that the daily stress of work meetings gives them some level of anxiety both during and after the working day.

Fear of being sacked, as well as the prospect of being humiliated in front of colleagues, or outdone by their peers, are some of the main reasons for this pressure.

The research, by office window blind retailer, Direct Blinds, also found that office workers are going to remarkable lengths to either avoid or cope with encounters with bosses and peers in meetings.

Talking anonymously, UK workers admitted that they favour the traditional means for escape, the ‘sickie’. Worryingly, however, some said their anxiety and stress was so intense that they often choose to ditch their morning espresso in favour for a stronger drink, with lunchtime trips to the pub commonplace before afternoon meetings.

Other coping methods put forward included wearing light-coloured clothing to disguise nervous perspiration and having more cigarette breaks before meetings.

The competitive nature of postgrad work, pressure to impress early in a career and the added burden of paying back student loans, means that the millennial generation are the most likely to suffer from meeting anxieties, with 52 per cent of workers under 34 admitted to having to battle stress beforehand.

Public meetings cause the most anxiety for employees. The popularity of open plan layouts of modern millennial offices, means that there tends to be less secluded settings, and adds to stress levels, with more than a quarter of people saying they felt more nervous about meetings that are not in private.

The research also asked employees to anonymously share real life stories of comments that have contributed to workplace stress that they’ve heard in meetings. These include one woman being asked whether she was pregnant when calling in sick, while an executive was asked to see if they could get their old job back.

Others told how they were ordered to ‘shut up and make coffees’, had their salaries revealed to colleagues, and asked by company executives, ‘Who the f*ck’ they were. One member of staff was even asked whether their grandmother, who had passed away, was actually dead, following taking compassionate leave.

Additional findings from Direct Blind’s research include:
69 per cent of UK workers have daily meetings
A quarter of these last at least 40 minutes
People working in Liverpool and Wrexham attend the most meetings in the country, averaging three per day

(Further information on the methodology and graphics can be found here.)

David Roebuck, managing director, at Direct Blinds, says, ‘Daily meetings love them or hate them are just a part of everyday office life. Sometimes they’ll be productive, others they’ll seem like a drag.

‘It’s shocking to see that almost half of people say they get nervous before these meetings, however. Even more so the fact that people are prepared to go to such lengths in order to avoid or offset any stress from meetings is concerning – no one should have to fear going into work.

‘That so many people are suffering this anxiety could be having a negative effect on their performances and most importantly, their health in the workplace, particularly for people early in their careers.’

Further reading on meetings

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

Related Topics