Workplace Management: Smart Ways to Deal with Depression

Depression is a real problem in today’s workplace, and it’s not confined to shift workers. Employers are seeing a wide range of shifts and employees experiencing depression. On the one hand, the employer has to keep production going. On the other, a depressed employee is not a productive one. What’s a manager to do?

Always Follow Up With Employees

Don’t wait for employees to come to you and express their depression. Most won’t. In fact, many don’t know that they are depressed. They just feel sad or maybe they’re feeling less chipper than usual. But, there are always ways for you to follow up with all employees on the production floor or in the office to see how everyone is feeling and doing.

Even when an employee does know that they are depressed, they won’t say anything out of shame. They may feel weak or they may feel like you don’t care or that you won’t do anything but look for ways to terminate their employment.

An online survey conducted by the American Psychiatric Association showed that, out of 1,129 workers, a great majority of them – ranging from 62 percent to 76 percent – believed that admitting to a psychological problem would not be acceptable to an employer.

Show them you understand.

Recognize Signs Of Depression

Signs of depression are easy to spot, if you’re looking for them. You will notice otherwise intelligent and punctual employees being late and forgetful. Unfinished projects, trouble concentrating, increased QA problems, indecisiveness, irritability, loss of interest in work, and fatigue are all signs of depression.

Don’t Let Accidents Happen

More than just decreased productivity, a depressed employee may be a liability. The last thing you want is to have an employee unfocused at work because of depression, have an accident, and then get a call from a Workers Compensation Attorney.

It’s in your best interest to approach at-risk employees early and often, set up a program for employees in-house or contract with a third-party professional service that’s anonymous.

Show Genuine Concern

So, once you’ve identified a problem, what do you say to a depressed employee? Well, there are lots of ways to engage him or her. Most importantly, don’t be threatening, presumptuous, or overly chummy. Do not tease the employee, and treat any suspected depression with extreme confidentiality.

Start with an acknowledgement of the concern for the employee. Say to them, “I’m concerned about you.” It actually helps if you’re actually concerned. Next, focus on what you’ve observed. If you’ve noticed that your employee is usually a happy and cheerful person, say so. Tell the person you really appreciate their attitude at work, and that you’ve noticed that something has changed.

The recognition goes a long way – many employees feel invisible in the eyes of their manager, especially upper management. Now offer help by referring the employee to an E.A.P. Make sure anything you give the employee is confidential, and assure the person that nothing will be disclosed to anyone else at work.

Make it clear that you’re not forcing the employee to get professional help, but that you also need their performance to improve.

Aaron Friedman, Esq., has over 25 years of experience in workers’ compensation law. When he’s not in the office, he’s sharing what he has learned by writing. Look for his informative articles on a variety of websites and blogs.