Every HR, manager, and team leader had to face employees going through a low or even struggling with depression at some point in their careers. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Public Health in December 2020, depression is the first hard-hit disease observed among software professionals (respondents) in Delhi, with 42.5% of the corporate employees suffering from this condition.
Depression is also the world’s biggest cause of disability. But you should know that the world’s biggest cause of disability is also one of the most treatable mental health conditions.
Almost 80% of those who receive treatment for depression show the first signs of improvement within weeks. Hence, as a team leader or an HR person, you must know the warning signs to begin a healthy and meaningful recovery process for your employees.
Since the pandemic hit, there has been a chronic rise in stress levels, and 43% of Indians are now suffering from depression, according to a new study conducted by GOQii, a smart-tech-enabled preventive healthcare platform.
How to Manage Employees Struggling with Depression and Actually Help Them
43% of Indians are now suffering from depression, according to a new study by GOQii, a smart-tech-enabled preventive healthcare platform.
Despite the rising toll in employees going through depression, many firms are impromptu in treating employee depression concerns. For instance, many supervisors discover mental health difficulties only after investigating a team member’s consistently poor performance.
Moreover, there is a popular perception amongst employers that depression in workers is a personal problem and the workplace has nothing to do with it.
But this should not be the case. Instead, employees should feel empowered to report a mental health issue and ask for a reasonable accommodation so that their manager may act to minimise the organisation’s loss and help the employee recover to total health.
Here is a guide for you on how to negotiate work arrangements and provide support to individuals with depression:
1. Start the conversation
When approaching an employee about their mental health, it is critical to creating an environment where they feel comfortable speaking with you. Instead of focusing on their mistakes on the job, you should start the conversation by expressing concern for their well-being.
Something as simple as: “Hey, is there something bothering you these days? I saw some changes in the way you work…so I thought of checking up on you.”
Rather than focusing on the problems, concentrate on the person. Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to be more honest with their response and participate in the conversation.
During the conversation, make sure you don’t sound judgmental, as that can put off the staff. You are not playing the role of their doctor and hence should not diagnose their ailments. The symptoms of depression can be very similar to other illnesses, and the employee may not even be aware of it.
It’s vital not to lose an employee’s trust or accidentally reveal their health information. If an employee is unwilling to speak with you, refer them to an occupational nurse therapist or a physician or in-house counsellor.
Before you leave your conversation with the employee, talk about creating an action plan to follow up. For example, the employee may seek HR advice on positive mental health benefits, contact the employee assistance programme, or set up meetings with management to discuss work-related concerns that may be contributing to the issue.
2. Allow a Flexible Schedule
A typical work schedule for many organisations includes being office-bound from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, an employee suffering from depression may approach you and want some change in the schedule.
Oversleeping, as well as difficulty falling or staying asleep, are frequent sleep disorders in depression. As a result, assisting an employee with a flexible work schedule is a reasonable solution.
Flexible work hours have been shown to boost productivity, dedication to the organisation, and employee retention.
However, if you enable flexible hours, there are two suggestions based on research to approach the same:
- Set a window of “core hours” or “core days” in which all team members must be present at the office, if necessary. The structure is beneficial to people who are depressed, but it is often difficult for them to create it for themselves. You can contribute by assisting sensitively and responsively.
- Encourage depressed employees to speak up or communicate their ideas freely with the team. Keep an eye out for avoidance on your employee’s behalf. Withdrawal adds to the feeling of isolation that might affect them severely.
In most cases, aloof and depressed persons will dwell on the unpleasant symptoms of depression. Withdrawal from communication can aggravate the condition. If you suspect something like this, step in and check.
It’s essential to reach out in a helpful and non-judgmental way. Stronger interactions with supervisors and peers may help reduce depression, according to research.
3. Be Positive and Criticise Less
Depression already leads to self-criticism. So instead of publicising your employees’ mistakes, guide them through the process subtly. Also, make it a point to reward achievements, such as when deadlines are met.
Depressed employees will have less motivation if they are threatened or punished. Research shows that discussing the benefits of an assignment as a motivation tool is way more successful than pointing out the drawbacks of incomplete projects. For assignments to be more appealing, it is essential to frame their utility and relevance. Even training and upskilling activities can motivate employees.
These strategies may have immediate and long-term benefits. For example, research suggests that people who feel valued and catered to their strengths are more interested in projects and experience less despair.Depression already leads to self-criticism. So instead of publicising your employees’ mistakes, guide them through the process subtly. Click To Tweet
4. Educate yourself and your staff about depression
Empower your employees to recognise and comprehend sadness, disapproval, and grievance. As a first approach, you can make a basic booklet regarding workplace depression and distribute it to every employee. Or you can arrange a session with an expert to educate about depression. Depression awareness is as essential as management.
Occasionally you or any member of your organisation may be able to reach out or report an employee who looks off, even before they’ve reported themselves. But to do that, you and your team have to be educated on the signs and symptoms of depression.
Empower your employees to recognise and comprehend sadness, disapproval, and grievance. As a first approach, you can make a basic booklet regarding workplace depression and distribute it to every employee.
Or you can arrange a session with an expert to educate about depression. Depression awareness is as essential as management.
Some of the most common and tell-tale signs of clinical depression can be:
- Confusion, forgetfulness or indecision.
- A decline in productivity or irregular behaviour on the work
- Lack of attendance or frequent absences from work
- Errors and poor work quality
- Lateness and missed deadlines
- Absence from coworkers
- Excessive sensitivity or emotion
- Work interest waned Slow motion and actions
If you detect multiple of these signs, you should talk to the employee about their mental health.
5. Be an empathetic leader
Dealing with depression is challenging for both the sufferer and those who contact them. As a result, you should also know how engaging with a depressed employee may affect you.
First, remember this isn’t about you at all. This is about how you, as a leader, may assist your employee. Remember that depression is a medical condition and, in most situations, limited by time. By helping a depressed employee, you assist your team, your organisation and demonstrate excellent leadership.
Second, take the initiative. Ascertain that your employees have the tools they require to be productive. This raises the possibility that they will come to you when they have issues before it causes any negative impact.
Depression is more likely to negatively impact work performance if sufficient planning and adjustments are not made in time. As a leader, it’s your obligation to foster a healthy work atmosphere that benefits all employees, including those who are depressed.
Now, over to you: share with us how you’ve dealt with mental health issues at your workplace? What strategies worked and what didn’t? Let us know in the comments.