Everybody gets sad once in a while. Ten to twenty percent of the US workforce gets clinically depressed each year. That depression costs you money in terms of absenteeism, lost productivity, reduced quality, employee turnover and on-the-job accidents. A 2003 study put the cost at over $44 billion per year.
What can you do about it?
Train your managers to recognize the symptoms and deal with them in a compassionate, but direct manner.
- The article "The Effects Of Depression In The Workplace", from Mental Health InfoSource provides a list of symptoms to look for.
- Here are some of the common sources of depression in the workplace (see upper right list).
Teach your employees that depression is an illness that can be treated, and usually cured. Create an environment where your employees can receive confidential diagnosis and treatment without fear of reprisal.
- The EEOC has published "Enforcement Guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Psychiatric Disabilities" to help companies understand what "reasonable accommodation" is required.
Provide help to depressed employees through an in-house Occupational Physician or an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP).
- The US Office of Personnel Management has a good description of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). It includes services, privacy, and legal authority information.
- To help you decide whether an Occupational Physician program is appropriate for your company, visit the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine site.
- For more information on EAPs, go to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association website.
Don't overlook depression as a possible cause of poor performance by your employees. They may not just be "burned out." They may need your help to return to their former levels of productivity.