Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a long-term mental health condition. People with social anxiety disorder have an overwhelming fear of social situations which can affect everyday activities, self-confidence, relationships and work life.

Managing work life with social anxiety

Managing social anxiety disorder at work involves recognising the day-to-day impact the condition has on your career and identifying the solutions. There are a number of reasons people with social anxiety may face difficulties in the workplace. They may struggle to develop and maintain relationships with colleges, lack of self-confidence or face difficulty speaking up in staff meetings.

  1. If you are currently employed, there are steps you can take to improve your ability to manage your symptoms while at work. The best place to start is by discussing your condition with your employer, highlighting the types of symptoms you are experiencing. Your employer can offer a range of reasonable adjustments to help you perform your duties as effectively as possible.
  2. If you are currently unemployed and aiming to establish a new career, while trying not to limit the range of careers you could enter, there are some factors you may want to consider. Careers that require high levels of interactions with strangers, such as retail or charity work, may be less suitable to some people with social anxiety.

When exploring different careers, ensure you spend the time researching the role requirements so you can be confident the work will be well suited to your personal needs. If you do decide to apply to any available roles, by disclosing your anxiety condition you may be able to access adjustments offered by the employer to make the recruitment process more accessible.

If you are struggling with social anxiety disorder, there are a range of treatment options and self-help tips available at the NHS website.

Advice for employers

If an employee is struggling with social anxiety disorder, there are steps you can take as an employer to help them cope with their condition and effectively complete their work duties.

  1. Modifying communication methods: Offering your employee the option to switch from face-to-face communication to email whenever possible may help alleviate some of the stress they are faced with when forced to communicate with others in person.
  2. Flexi Time: People with a range of anxiety conditions, including social anxiety disorder, often benefit from having more control over their working hours. This could give your employee the ability to work when their symptoms may be less severe, and ultimately increase productivity.
  3. Location choices: Allowing your employee greater freedom over where they base themselves in your workplace could provide the extra comfort people with social anxiety disorder require. For instance, people with social anxiety may prefer to work in a quieter part of the office.