In every workplace, anxiety is an ever-present reality that transcends job titles and seniority levels.

While nerves are common when facing new challenges, persistent anxiety can lead to a demotivated workforce, impacting confidence, productivity, and overall morale.

PPL PRS, a leading music licensing company, delved into the heart of workplace anxiety, unveiling insights on the top stress-inducing situations. Music Therapist Marianne Rizkallah and Leadership Coach Debbie Green weigh in, providing valuable advice for employers and People Managers to identify and support team members grappling with workplace anxiety.

Spotting Signs of Workplace Anxiety

Recognizing signs of workplace anxiety is the first step in addressing the issue. Marianne Rizkallah emphasises the importance of understanding how anxiety manifests physically, mentally, and emotionally. Physical symptoms may include a quickened heart rate, shallow breaths, fatigue, and muscle aches, while mental and emotional indicators range from a quick temper to paranoid behaviour.

Top Causes of Workplace Anxiety Revealed

A recent 2023 survey conducted by PPL PRS identified the following as the top five causes of workplace anxiety:

  1. Performance reviews – 50%
  2. Starting new projects – 39%
  3. Client meetings – 31%
  4. Internal meetings – 29%
  5. Answering calls – 28%

Performance reviews, in particular, can trigger heightened anxiety levels, often leading to a fight-or-flight response for employees fearing negative feedback. These anxieties extend beyond face-to-face interactions, encompassing phone anxiety—a manifestation of social anxiety.

Unchecked workplace anxieties can escalate to burnout, a chronic state of stress resulting in physical and emotional exhaustion, detachment, and negativity. This, in turn, hampers work performance and may be considered a mental health issue.

Supporting Employees with Workplace Anxiety

Creating a psychologically safe work environment is crucial for supporting employees dealing with workplace anxiety. Mental health first aid training for HR and People Managers can facilitate the identification and resolution of underlying issues. Marianne Rizkallah suggests three daily habits to combat workplace anxiety, including listening to music, getting outdoors, and writing down thoughts.

PPL PRS offers a music flow chart to help employers choose the right music to set the mood in their workspace based on team needs.

Expert Tips from Leadership Coach Debbie Green

Debbie Green emphasises the importance of recognising the value of every team member. Creating a collaborative and connected team environment, acknowledging great work, providing suggestions, and offering development opportunities are key strategies to help overcome workplace anxiety. Managers are encouraged to care about their team members, understand their motivations, and create a space for open and supportive conversations.

In conclusion, prioritising mental health support options and incorporating music into the workplace toolkit can contribute to a positive and productive work environment. With the right strategies in place, employees can feel supported, motivated, and empowered to deliver their best at work.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.