The mental health of employees is imperative to the success of any organization. Sadly, mental health of employees is often overlooked in the corporate world. Employees are expected to give their best, and talking about depression is not really encouraged, A lot of managers have no idea how to deal with employees who are suffering from depression. Globally, 300 million people are affected by depression and 80 percent of this number don’t have the courage to seek help.
According to a resource published by Mind.org, many employees choose not to talk about their mental health because they are afraid of losing their jobs, and are concerned about confidentiality. A lot of employees are also unaware of the fact that they are depressed or fear that their insurance won’t cover the costs of treatment. Reports show that workplace depression is a huge problem for economies worldwide, costing billions to organizations annually. Research carried out by Mental Health America revealed that in the United States, when depression is left untreated, it costs over $51 billion dollars in absenteeism from work, and lost productivity, compared to $26 billion in direct treatment costs.
Employees with depression find it difficult to function properly. Even great artists like Van Gogh, when faced with depression struggled to find motivation to work. Research proves that early identification and treatment is important to productivity and recovery. It is important for managers to look out for the mental health of their employees. Here are some signs that managers should look out for:
Loss of motivation ― Depression is usually characterized by low motivation. Is your employee suddenly unenthusiastic about tasks?
Decreased Productivity ― If your employee is constantly missing deadlines and doing sloppy work, it might be a sign of a greater problem.
Withdrawal ― Depression is marked by a change in social behavior. Has your employee suddenly stopped relating to co-workers and prefers to be alone all the time?
Absenteeism -- If they suddenly start taking sick days of more than usual, they might be dealing with a problem.
Tardiness -- Are they constantly late to work? Do they look cheerless when they get to work?
Tiredness ― Do they complain about being tired after doing the most basic of tasks?
How managers can help depressed employees
Depression can easily be misinterpreted as laziness or poor work ethic. You can’t treat depression with threats or a pep talk. Chances are, you’re probably making it worse. If your employee is depressed, here are some steps that you can take.
Create an open environment
Encourage workers to talk to you about any stress,anxiety or depression that they face. Create a culture of support where employees understand that they are not alone, and you will work with them to get through their depression.
Respect their confidentiality
Always remember that mental health information is highly sensitive. If an employee opens up to, it means they trust you enough to do so. Don’t pass on information to others except they give you permission to do so.
Respect your employee enough to understand that the symptoms they display may not affect their ability to do their job. Don’t talk to them like they’re suddenly incapable ― a lot of depressed people are able to manage their conditions and perform their roles well. Instead, ask how you can help and explore options to make their work easier with them.
Offer flexible work options
If your employee is depressed, your priority should be their mental health. Give them flexible work options. Allow them to work from home, take naps at work or work lesser hours. Let them take a few days off when they don’t feel too good. Encourage them to take only tasks that they can handle and give them a chance to reduce their workload.
Check up on them
Offer a friendly shoulder and ask them how they’re doing every now and then. Don’t pressure them to talk, but make sure they understand that you are available to listen. Include them in activities with their co-workers when the feel up to it, and make them feel supported.
Managers have the responsibility of ensuring that workplaces are filled with positive energy, and employees feel safe. Standing by an employee when they are dealing with mental health problems reflects your organization’s values. As a leader, you should be heavily invested in the mental health of your employees and take steps to encourage them to take care of their mental health.
Barakat Sheriff is a freelance mental health writer and content marketer.