Brits are famous for their stiff upper lip, but the habit of putting on a brave face may be having a negative impact on their careers.
Some 14% said their fears have already had a negative impact on their professional career.
But many are choosing to keep their fears to themselves, with only 2% having ever spoken to their HR teams about them and as little as 7% ever choosing to talk to their manager.
Brits were asked to rate 12 of the most common fears on a scale of being “very afraid” to “not at all.” Public speaking was at the top, beating both heights (65%) and social situations (37%) as the nation’s number one fear.
As many as 67% of Brits admitted to “shunning the centre stage,” revealing their fear of public speaking. Just under a quarter (23%) confessed to being “very afraid” of speaking up.
The results suggest presenting in front of their peers is a daunting challenge for most Brits, despite it being widely considered a necessary skill in the workplace by employers.
One survey respondent told pollsters he had suffered from a fear of public speaking since he was a child. He described himself as a sweaty, “gibbering wreck” with a “racing heart” in interview situations.
He said his fear had impacted on past career opportunities. ‘’I used to beat myself up that I couldn't sell myself well. So I missed a few opportunities,” he said.
He has worked hard to reduce the effects of his fears but admitted: ‘‘I have half-overcome my phobia... It’s still uncomfortable for me.”
Heights remain a towering fear for a number of UK employees, with 65% of respondents enduring some degree of acrophobia or “vertigo”, and many saying it affects them at work.
Another survey respondent, a former stage manager, said she used to have to face her fear of heights daily as part of her job.
“I have a horrible fear of heights. It affected work when I was a stage manager – there was a lot of ladder climbing and, worse still, climbing tallescopes,” she said.
“I shook so much my fingers could barely fashion a strong enough knot to hold the light. It was a whole-body shake – not confined to arms or legs. It was, basically, unsafe for me to do that part of the job.’’
The research also reveals Brits’ changing relationship with technology is having an impact on their social and professional behaviour.
The under-35 generation of employees is now almost three times as likely (32%) as those over the age of 55 (12%) to fear a verbal phone conversation with a stranger.
This is a “serious issue” that “requires due thought and consideration in the workplace”, Jobsite warned.
It added: “Workplaces, where staff feel comfortable enough to express themselves and can work successfully towards overcoming their fears and phobias, have the potential to make a lasting positive impact on employee’s lives.’’