Most workers get a few butterflies in their belly or slightly sweaty palms before a big client presentation or an annual performance review. It’s completely normal to feel a little bit nervous or scared heading into a major workplace event. But if something about your job or office triggers such a strong fear that it becomes debilitating, you may have a workplace phobia.
A workplace phobia might be associated with a specific job function — having to speak in public, for instance — or something related to the office environment — say, working on the top floor of a 100-story building. The competitive and cutthroat nature of today’s business world isn’t doing much to soothe workers’ nerves either and is likely the cause or catalyst of many workplace anxieties.
CareerBuilder polled workers to find out what it is that fills them with workplace-related angst. Top responses included:
- Getting yelled at by the boss — 26 percent
- Forgetting to set my alarm and oversleeping — 23 percent
- Presenting — 18 percent
- Accidently hitting “reply all” to an email intended to be private — 15 percent
- Meeting with executives — 11 percent
- Meetings in general — 11 percent
- Getting caught visiting an inappropriate website — 9 percent
Real stories of workplace worries
Delving deeper into what keeps workers up at night, we asked people to share their own workplace fears or the experiences that have brought on employment anxiety. Here’s what they had to say:
“In my last two jobs, I had very abusive bosses. They would scream all the time, embarrass staff in front of others, make a mistake and blame you — the list goes on. Since being in my current position for the last three years, my experience has been much better, but because I have a fear of being bullied by a boss again, I’ve turned down a more lucrative position for fear of getting into a bad situation.” – T. Graham
“I have this ridiculous fear of accidentally burping in front my boss. [It's] to the point where I won’t drink sodas if I know higher-ups are around. It happened, and of course it was no big deal, but I still worry about it.” — Aron S.
“My biggest fear doesn’t come from anything from the business or technological standpoint. The fear that always resonates with me is the fear of a substantial power outage. Three years ago at our office, we experienced a hellish storm that knocked us out of commission for three full days. Our company deals with many facets, but two of the larger ones are customer service via phone and email. We could not access either one of those for 72 hours. The loss of existing and potential customers was outrageous, and it took days to finally recover from that loss. It’s a natural occurrence, and we can never predict when or where it’s going to strike, so we are always fearful of the next big one. We have taken precautionary measures since that time. Things like having multiple servers, phone lines, batteries and a secondary office will limit the damage, but those things will never fully protect you from such a terrible event.” – Ian A.
“I worry that my credit-card processor won’t work. My store is strictly online, so I don’t handle sales in person. [I also worry] that a customer won’t receive their order or it will be damaged by the post office.” – Jamie Y.
“I’m very team-oriented, so as a temp/contractor, my greatest fear is being sent to an assignment in a ‘non-team’ environment.” – George L.
“Worst fear: Getting passed over because of age and ignoring the rich value a human being brings to an organization.” – Ana Lucia N.
What is your biggest workplace fear or phobia? Tell us in the comments section.