April is Stress Awareness Month. Let SHRM make your work life easier: Join Now
Shawn Premer shows how doing the right thing for employees leads to positive business results.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Clinical depression, or major depressive disorder, is a pervasive and growing problem for employees, their managers and their organizations. At any given time, depression affects about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The World Health Organization predicts that depression will be the second-largest disease burden in the world by 2030 behind HIV and AIDS.
Already, depressed employees are a drain on workplace productivity, accounting for an average of 2.3 lost workdays a month, more than double the average sick days taken by employees, according to “The Effects of Major Depression on Moment-in-Time Work Performance,” published in the October 2004 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
As a manager, you should be concerned about the impact of depression on your employees and your organization. Employees diagnosed with depression are unlikely to admit their condition because of the stigma associated with mental health and because of concerns about losing their jobs. While you should not put yourself in the role of diagnostician or therapist, you should be aware of employees who might be struggling with this insidious disease.
Work-related signs and symptoms of depression include:
No single one of these symptoms is evidence of depression. But if you notice several symptoms during a period of a few weeks, you may have an employee who has become depressed.
For the employee experiencing these performance problems, which may be attributable to depression, you must tread carefully. Meet with the employee to discuss specific changes in work behavior. If the employee brings up personal problems or feelings of sadness, stop the conversation and refer him to the company’s employee assistance program or an outside resource. Offer compassion and support during this rough time, but remind the employee that performance goals must be met.
As a compassionate manager, you may be tempted to “lower the bar” for the struggling employee. But you can’t treat an employee whom you believe has depression any differently from how you treat another employee when it comes to meeting performance standards.
If an employee comes to you and reveals his depression, there are actions you might be required to take. The Americans with Disabilities Act states in part that employers are required to make a “reasonable accommodation” for employees with depression who request it and who qualify under the act’s disability definition.
Accommodations can include a flexible or part-time schedule, time off for doctors’ appointments, extended leave for a hospitalization, or other options that don’t create an “undue hardship” on the business.
Contact your company’s HR specialist. He or she can help determine if the employee qualifies for protection and, if so, can work with you on reasonable accommodations that are appropriate for your business and function.
More likely, an employee will not want to reveal depression because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. In that case, present resources in a group setting to all employees. Suggest to your HR specialist that he or she bring in a mental health expert for a seminar on how to recognize signs of depression and where to get help.
At a minimum, continue giving regular feedback and coaching for performance improvement. Document work issues and results, and look forward to a time when the employee performs better professionally and gets the help he needs personally.
The author, an organizational psychologist, is founder and chief executive officer of Depression Recovery Groups, www.depressionrecoverygroups.com. He previously served as a practice leader at Accenture, Watson Wyatt and Towers Perrin.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
CA Resources at Your Fingertips
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies