Could Your Underperforming Employee Be Depressed?

A few months ago, I visited a friend whose company had just experienced the suicide of an employee. The tragedy impacted every staff member, casting a pall over the entire office. More recently, the news told us all about the Germanwings/Lufthansa plane crash, deliberately caused by a pilot who was suffering from severe depression.  Such events can remind you how important it is to understand depression, how it can impact your workplace, and what resources you might provide employees.

Assurance, a provider of health care solutions, recently blogged about depressive disorders, which the National Institute of Mental Health defines as a debilitating disease that affects the body, mind, mood and thoughts of an individual. “This illness affects many aspects of the individual’s life such as eating and sleeping patterns, self-esteem, motivations and perceptions. Symptoms of depression that may be evident in the workplace include:

  • Minimal or inconsistent productivity
  • Absenteeism, lateness, leaving one’s work station frequently
  • Downfall in work quality
  • Missing deadlines or putting things off
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Overly sensitive or emotional
  • Lack of an interest in one’s work
  • Difficulty learning new things or remembering
  • Slowed thoughts and actions
  • Comments about being tired all the time or an appearance of being lethargic”

Do you have a worker who lately seems to be off his or her game? Could your underperforming employee be depressed? If so, advises Assurance, don’t try to diagnose or ask directly if he or she has depression. This could get you into hot water with the ADA. You may discuss an employee’s performance or even express concern about how he or she is doing. But the best approach is to provide “education and resources to your entire workforce to encourage those suffering to seek assistance.” Understanding the illness of depression can remove its stigma and help employees to recognize its symptoms in themselves and others. Receiving treatment can help them become more productive at work, so be sure your company’s health provider includes depression treatment as part of its overall plan.

Depression can be debilitating to your employee and to your workplace–but it doesn’t need to be. With your proactivity, your staff can become more aware and individual employees can get help if needed. Do you have an underperforming employee who seems depressed? Don’t wait another day to launch your company-wide depression initiative campaign. Tomorrow could be too late.

Could your thoughts ruin your career? Click here to read more.

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