Preventing pre-meeting anxiety in employees

A quick summary:

  • Creating recurring calendar schedules for meetings 📆
  • Ensuring employees feel comfortable coming forward 👋
  • Setting meeting expectations prior to the meeting 📋
  • Ask for meeting feedback from employees 👂

In recent weeks, a trending article has hit LinkedIn. It’s about how to deal with an impromptu meeting with your boss. The article suggests speaking with colleagues about company updates or asking your manager if you should bring anything along. 

These points are good. However, we want to put our own spin on the subject here at Heka and highlight how managers can help settle the nerves of employees. 

All leaders should recognise the anxiety and stress that uncertainty causes – a topic we discussed in a guest post for Fair Play Talks. What’s more, uncertainty gives rise to poor emotional health, and this can hinder our productivity and performance in the workplace. Employers may also see an increase in absenteeism in their team.

If employees are awaiting a meeting on short notice, it could sit on their minds. That will deteriorate any progress they’re hoping to make until the meeting has happened. So, how can managers prevent pre-meeting anxieties in their team? Let’s dive right into it! 

Two employees working together in an office environment
How to prevent pre-meeting anxiety and stress in employees

4 ways to prevent pre-meeting anxieties and stress

Below, we’re exploring four approaches to prevent employees from feeling anxious or stressed about an upcoming meeting.

Create a recurring schedule in your team member’s calendar

Our first suggestion is to create a recurring schedule for the meeting. Whether the meeting is very rare or not, the notice will ease the mind of employees. It may be that you don’t necessarily need something in the calendar, but it’s best practice. 

The heads-up eliminates any anxiety employees have, as they know what to expect to a degree. You could name the meeting something as simple as “Project progress”. That way, employees can also better prepare and bring any necessary information or documents. 

Even if you aren’t sure as to the frequency of future meetings on the same topic, let employees know this – communication is vital in this kind of situation!

Similar read: How to run a 1-2-1 wellbeing meeting for managers

A female employee and a male employee working together in a brain-storming meeting
Ensuring employees can come forward about their stress and worry

Ensure employees feel comfortable expressing their worry

Unfortunately, many workplaces suffer from toxic management. They’re unable to express how they truly feel and can’t come forward about any worries and anxieties. 

If this is the case in your workplace, conversations about the meeting will be discussed throughout the office with others. This can create problems of its own; we all know how rumours can develop. 

Sooner or later, employees will be wondering whether there are dismissals or a reshuffle taking place. Not only will the employee you’re having a meeting with feel anxious, but this take over the atmosphere in the workplace. 

Instead, aim to create a culture and work environment that welcomes health and wellbeing concerns. It may sound unrealistic, but some employees simply don’t feel comfortable asking for more meeting details – don’t let this be your workplace. 

When placing the meeting on your team member’s calendar or through conversation in person, try leading with “There’s nothing to worry about, and it’s just a conversation regarding project X or the incident on Wednesday”. 

Assuming the conversation is in regards to an issue or incident, it’s still best practice to inform your employee. This way, they have time to consider whatever happened and what they can do to prevent it from happening again.

Two children pretending to be corporate adult employees in a meeting
Set expectations for your one-to-one meetings

Set meeting expectations prior to the conversation

As we’ve discussed, providing there’s no real reason not to tell your employee about the topic of discussion, then tell them! In fact, try going one step further and outline the expectations you have for the meeting.

The best meetings are meetings that are kept to a minimum. Nobody enjoys lengthy conversations that go in circles and struggle to find a solution. By preparing your employee in advance with an outline, you’re able to create efficient and fear-free meetings. 

Make it a practice to write three to five bullet points regarding the meeting. Things you want your employee to consider, the information they should bring along and any ideas they should contribute. 

Similar read: What is ‘leavism’ and does it impact my employees?

Ask for feedback from employees regarding the meeting

The best way to improve is constructive feedback. Ask your employees how they felt about the meeting. Whilst this isn’t a particular practice to prevent pre-meeting anxiety, it’s a long-term strategy to ensure you’re minimising it over time. 

Design some questions to ask your employees about they felt before and during the meeting. Once you’ve received enough feedback, you’ll have a better insight into how employees feel.

Are they anxious? Are they worried? Or do they enjoy and look forward to having conversations with you as their manager? Remember, there are always improvements to be made, and asking the right questions will help you make progress. 

Here are some questions to consider for your one-to-one meeting feedback: 

  • How would you describe your feelings prior to the meeting?
  • Do you find yourself overthinking things prior to our meeting?
  • Do managers help quash anxieties and worry during one-to-one conversations?
  • Would you change the structure of our one-to-ones?

Two employees working at a small circular desk on notes and a laptop during a meeting
Our final thoughts on managing pre-meeting anxiety

Our final thoughts for managers to consider

In a world battling with uncertainty – be it the economy, personal finances, disease and illness or war – leaders should be doing more to support employee wellbeing.

Whether it’s your employee benefits package or how you conduct one-to-one meetings, leaders must consider how employees feel. Remember, it’s in the small details that managers can really make a difference to employee mental health.

Building great relationships with employees is achieved by minimising anxiety, stress and other negative emotions. And by doing so, stronger relationships create more successful businesses. 

Now that you’ve considered how one-to-one meetings can impact employee wellbeing and relationships, consider other ways you can improve your management approach. 

Want Heka to help with your employee benefits? Why not book a demo with one of our wellbeing experts? Not ready? Find out more about Heka