The majority of health workers in the UK say they have avoided answering work calls in the last year due to experiencing phone anxiety, according to new research.
60% of employees said they’d avoided work or office calls, while 51% of all workers said they’d experienced phone anxiety in the last year.
Phone anxiety is defined as a genuine fear of phone calls.
These findings are part of a new study based on an independent survey of 250 office based healthcare workers commissioned by telephone answering service Face For Business.
The survey was conducted in June 2022.
The results show a worrying trend of phone anxiety among health workers for whom phone answering is a central part of their job.
The study found that this increasing anxiety isn’t just limited to younger workers.
Just over a third of 18-34 year olds who took part in the survey said they’d avoided answering work calls in the last year, but the problem is actually greater among older workers.
More than half (58%) of health workers aged 35-54 admitted to avoiding work calls due to feelings of anxiety.
The survey revealed a number of reasons for increasing levels of phone anxiety in the health sector.
Most employees who said they’d experienced phone anxiety (20%) said they felt a general sense of nerves and fear about calls which had led to their anxiety.
13% said they were scared they’d be unable to help a caller immediately and face a confrontational patient as a result.
Perhaps more worryingly when it comes to the work environment, 11% said they experienced anxiety because they were concerned about being overheard and judged by their managers.
Face For Business’ study also revealed worryingly high levels of anxiety among health workers.
Nearly a third of those surveyed (32%) described their anxiety levels between very anxious and extremely anxious when faced with a work call.
Another 30% said they felt slightly anxious about handling calls at work.
One potential reason for the rise in anxiety among health workers dealing with phone calls is that many don’t seem to be receiving the training they want - or say they need.
Nearly two-thirds of all health workers surveyed said more training would reduce their anxiety and improve their confidence on the phone.
65% of younger workers (those aged 18-34) said training is something they wanted, and 58% of 35-54 year olds agreed.
Despite this, 69% of those surveyed said they’d been offered no phone training by their employers.
Commenting on the research, Andy MacGregor, managing director of Face For Business, said:
“These findings are extremely worrying for the health sector with so many employees saying they experience extreme levels of anxiety about dealing with calls, and a majority actually avoiding answering phones because of these feelings.
“Our health workers are essential to our communities so they should be fully supported in doing their work, and this includes supporting them in dealing with phone calls. Whether it’s more training and or providing more call support so they’re not dealing with every call, more needs to be done.”