Addressing Workplace depression: In the hustle and bustle of the modern workplace, a hidden burden silently affects millions of individuals. The impact of depression extends beyond personal well-being, permeating the productivity of workers, the satisfaction of clients, and the overall fabric of society.
This article delves into the profound effect of depression on workplace productivity, its implications for clients, and the pivotal role organizations play in combating this issue.
Let’s begin by understanding what depression really is. Depression, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is a common mental health disorder characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.
Depression is not simply feeling sad; According to the WHO’s comprehensive report on depression, it’s a complex mental health condition that affects over 264 million people worldwide, making it a pressing concern that demands attention and action.
Furthermore, depression can manifest in different forms, including major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, persistent depressive disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.
However, at times, people may mistake sadness or stress for depression, and the other way around. Psychology Today explains that sadness is a common emotion that arises from disappointing, difficult, hurtful, or challenging situations. But, sadness tends to diminish over time, as does stress. In contrast, depression is a long-term, persistent negative emotional state that lasts for a minimum of two weeks with no specific trigger.
How Depression affects Workplace Productivity
Depression significantly impacts workplace productivity, causing substantial financial losses for employers. According to a study by the Centre for Mental Health, the annual cost to UK employers amounts to a staggering £35 billion. This financial toll is attributed to the lost productivity caused by depression.
When someone experiences depression, their symptoms do not switch off once they start working. These symptoms persist wherever they are. It is not merely a matter of having a single bad day at work for someone feeling depressed and lacking motivation. Instead, they endure a series of hard days that not only affect their mental well-being but also have repercussions on their job performance and frequently affect their colleagues as well.
Research conducted by the British Medical Journal underscores the significant economic implications of productivity losses due to depression for both organizations and society at large.
Depression doesn’t just affect employees; it also hurts clients and the quality of service provided. When employees are depressed, they may struggle to interact effectively with clients, resulting in lower customer satisfaction and potential harm to the organization’s reputation.
Additionally, research conducted by the Harvard Business Review demonstrates a direct link between employee well-being and customer loyalty, underscoring the close connection between mental health and client relationships.
Some of the effect of depression on workplace productivity include the following:
1. Reduced work performance and efficiency
Depression can have a significant impact on work performance and efficiency. When individuals experience depression, it becomes challenging for them to concentrate, stay focused, and maintain motivation. As a result, their ability to perform tasks effectively and efficiently decreases. They may struggle to meet deadlines, experience difficulty in making decisions, and find it hard to generate new ideas. The overall quality of their work may suffer, leading to decreased productivity.
Additionally, individuals with depression may experience fatigue and lack of energy, which further hinders their ability to perform at their best. It is crucial for employers and colleagues to provide support and understanding to individuals dealing with depression, as addressing their mental health needs can ultimately help improve work performance and overall well-being.
2. Increased Mistakes and inconsistencies
With a reduced ability to concentrate, individuals facing anxiety and depression are prone to making more errors. Their cognitive faculties are compromised as their minds become preoccupied with the symptoms of their condition, preventing them from fully engaging in their work or tasks. Although minor mistakes may go unnoticed initially, they can accumulate and contribute to subpar job performance. In most severe cases, this could lead to job loss.
3. Missed Deadline and Turnover
When someone experiences depression or anxiety, they struggle to focus and concentrate, which can have a direct impact on their productivity. As a result, tasks may take longer to complete, and deadlines may be missed due to difficulty in maintaining sustained attention.
4. Increased rates of absenteeism
Because the mind is distracted and unable to focus on anything productive, affected individuals would be found consistently taking excuses from work. This generally reduces the work efficiency and general productivity of an organization.
5. Increased rate of Presenteeism
Presenteeism is the practice of being present at one’s place of work for more hours than is required, especially as a manifestation of insecurity about one’s job. It is the practice of being present at work but emotionally absent.
Depression negatively affects different aspects of employee performance, such as their ability to concentrate and make decisions, manage time effectively, accomplish physical tasks, engage in social interactions, and communicate efficiently.
What Coworkers think About Depression
Employers and other employees are not always likely to understand when someone they work with has depression. Because they aren’t mental health specialists, their impression of a depressed or anxious employee might include some of these perceptions:
Employee procrastinates too much
The employee is lazy, under-motivated, or doesn’t care about their work.
The employee is unsocial or withdrawn
The employee doesn’t seem to care about their appearance
Employee lacks confidence
The employee has poor communication skills.
The employee is prone to accidents, missed deadlines, tardiness
Of course, when suffering individuals perceive that their coworkers or management feel these ways about them, it only increases their feelings of depression and anxiety, causing more exacerbation.
Coping with Depression: Practical Steps to Take
When facing depression, it’s important to take proactive measures to protect yourself at work while simultaneously seeking treatment to improve your mental health and regain a sense of joy and purpose in life.
Consider the following suggestions for working while depressed:
One of the most valuable steps you can take is to consult a licensed medical professional who can confirm your diagnosis and develop a personalized treatment plan. If seeking professional help isn’t feasible, because of your schedule, you could try other means as suggested in point two.
Establish a routine with daily objectives: Individuals with depression often struggle with motivation, time management, and a sense of direction. Following a structured schedule with clear goals, no matter how small, can help prevent falling into a slump.
Cultivate a supportive network: Whether at home or work, surround yourself with friends and family who uplift you and inspire you to be your best self.
Prioritize your physical well-being: Exercise provides numerous health benefits, such as weight control, increased energy levels, and temporary mood elevation through the release of endorphins. Pay attention to your diet as well, as certain foods can support brain health and alleviate symptoms of depression.
Engage in self-care. Engaging in self-care practices, like exercise and mindfulness, can also contribute to overall well-being.
Reach out to Support networks. You can reach out to support networks available online and offline, providing invaluable resources for individuals on their journey to recovery.
The Role of Organizations in Fighting Depression
Organizations have a pivotal role in supporting their employees in the fight against depression. Here are key actions organizations can take:
Create a supportive work environment that acknowledges and addresses mental health challenges.
Implement mental health awareness and training programs to educate employees and reduce stigma.
Establish Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and support networks to provide resources and guidance.
Promote work-life balance to prevent burnout and support overall well-being.
Introduce stress management techniques to help employees cope with work-related pressures.
Legal Protection for Employees with Depression: Know Your Rights
When dealing with depression in the workplace, it’s important to understand the legal protections available to you. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) safeguards individuals with depression against harassment and discrimination. Here are key points to remember:
Employees in the U.S with depression are protected by the ADA against workplace harassment and discrimination.
The ADA grants privacy rights, prohibiting employers from disclosing information about an employee’s condition to anyone, including coworkers.
Good accommodations must be in place to enable employees with depression to perform their job effectively. Accommodations are modifications to the usual work process that cater to the employee’s needs.
The effects of depression don’t need to be permanent or severe to qualify as a disability.
Mental health conditions such as major depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and OCD qualify for ADA protection, and many others may qualify as well.
Editors Note; For more detailed information on the legal rights and protections for employees with work-related depression, refer to the EEOC’s web page dedicated to mental health and legal rights.
Conclusion on Workplace Depression
In summary, the profound impact of depression on workplace productivity, clients, and society emphasizes the crucial role organizations play in promoting mental well-being. By increasing awareness, implementing effective strategies, and providing support, organizations become agents of positive change.