Fear Keeping Employees From Speaking Up at Work

Chad Brooks, BusinessNewsDaily Contributor
July 13, 2013

If you're losing sleep worrying about your job security, you're not alone.

A new study from the University of Phoenix revealed that more than 60 percent of working adults worry about losing their jobs in the current economic climate. Specifically, one in five workers thinks about it at least once a week, while nearly 10 percent stress about it at least once a day.

Workers' concerns about how the state of the economy is affecting their job status may be preventing them from realizing their full potential. The study found that 34 percent of employees whose performance has been affected by the current economic climate are less likely to disagree or speak up about issues concerning them, and the same percentage of workers said they have avoided looking for a new job.

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In addition, more than a quarter of the workers surveyed have not sought a promotion, 24 percent are more competitive with co-workers and 15 percent are less inclined to bring up out-of-the-box ideas.

While employees should be doing more to position themselves as company leaders during rough economic times, many are holding back, said Sam Sanders, college chairman for the University of Phoenix School of Business.

"Individuals may feel it is best to maintain the status quo and not draw too much attention to themselves, but this can send the wrong message and affect the individual's personal career growth," Sanders said.  "Those who understand the big picture and how their own skill sets help their companies achieve goals should have more confidence and can have an advantage in the workplace."

Sanders offers several tips to help employees overcome the fear of speaking up at the office:

  • Be knowledgeable and see the big picture: Particularly in a challenging economic environment, it is important to understand the various factors that are contributing to an organization's success and challenges. Workers should try to be a go-to expert in their area and demonstrate that they understand how these activities fit into the larger organization's goals.
  • Be a problem solver, not just a problem identifier: Organizations value critical thinking, but in uncertain times, it can be tempting to look to others for solutions. Focus on the results and the solutions. Employees need to demonstrate that they have done their homework by making strong points when recommending ideas.
  • Continue to grow skills: Turn fear into confidence by understanding what skills the company needs and pushing to learn or grow these skills. Workers must always be looking for ways to enhance their skill set and tie those skills to the organization's priorities.
  • Be entrepreneurial in your own career: Being an entrepreneur isn't just about starting a business; it's about looking for and seizing opportunity. This can mean finding new revenue streams, extending into new categories or improving a process. It also applies to each worker's own career. Pursue learning opportunities, volunteer for new assignments or tackle a project from a different perspective.

The study was based on surveys of more than 1,600 U.S. full-time, part-time or self-employed workers ages 18 and older.

This story was provided by BusinessNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Follow Chad Brooks on Twitter @cbrooks76 or BusinessNewsDaily @BNDarticles. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

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