According to RiskAware, a division of Risk Transfer, depression is a debilitating disease that not only affects the person suffering from it, but also affects those around them and the employer’s bottom line. In addition to the medical costs to treat depression, employers see huge losses in productivity from workers who are depressed and not treated. In fact, among diseases such as arthritis, allergies, asthma, back pain, headaches and high blood pressure, depression is most likely to decrease focus and inhibit productivity, according to the American Psychiatric Association. The direct and indirect costs of depression can be significant for employers, making it essential to address. Employers can combat depression in the workplace by educating their employees and making available valuable resources to help those suffering from the condition.
What is Depression?
The National Institute of Mental Health describes a depressive disorder as a debilitating disease that affects the body, mind, mood and thoughts of an individual. This illness affects many aspects of the individual’s life such as eating and sleeping patterns, self-esteem, motivations and perceptions. Symptoms of depression that may be evident in the workplace include:
· Minimal or inconsistent productivity
· Absenteeism, lateness, leaving one’s work station frequently
· Downfall in work quality
· Missing deadlines or putting things off
· Withdrawal from others
· Overly sensitive or emotional
· Lack of an interest in one’s work
· Difficulty learning new things or remembering
· Slowed thoughts and actions
· Comments about being tired all the time or an appearance of being lethargic
The one things employers should not do is offer a potential diagnosis or ask the individual if they have depression; you would face legal liability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Instead, it may be appropriate to express your concern for the individual’s well-being, or discuss their performance if it is suffering. A safer route would be to promote education and resources to your entire workforce, to encourage those suffering to seek assistance.
Employers can take a proactive approach to battling depression and assist their employees on the road to recovery in various ways. To learn more about employee relations and work related matters, contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Human Resources Department and find out how a PEO can assist you and your company. Call the LL Roberts Group (toll free) at 877.878.6463.