Depression catapulted into the public eye a few years ago. Many people fight the thick smog, or will do so sometime in their near future.
But one area I’ve heard relatively little information on is how it affects the workplace. Some of my long-term employees battle this invasive emotional plague.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, besides what it costs the individual in despair, it costs financially. Many times, one source of the insidious disease is money problems. And yet, one of the first coping mechanisms is to quit a job or take an extended period of time off with no pay. The original problems magnify, and new problems stack on top of old.
Depression also costs companies millions in decreased productivity. Absenteeism, short-term disability, and lack of focus add to expenses of over-extended business. Everyone pays for depression.
But as an employer, what do you do with someone who can hardly get out of bed, much less produce good work during their shift?
Christians can pray privately for employees. There is power in prayer, especially when infused with trustful thanksgiving before an answer is seen. This anonymous gift need never be revealed.
After prayer and reading the Bible, the most effective tool I’ve found is a Gratitude Journal. Since the human brain cannot think two distinctly opposite thoughts at the same time, it makes sense to steer someone to think thanks, so the mind can’t focus on negatives.
On a practical level, help the employee break down overwhelming situations into smaller, focused areas. Often, a person can’t pull themselves out of depression alone. The dark slope of despair causes them to slip back down when they try to climb out. Offering a helping hand to tackle one tiny obstacle at a time might energize them to do more than they thought possible. But be careful not to push hard, or earlier than the individual is ready for.
Gently suggest an employee seek professional help. Though hurting employees often want someone to fix the broken places, the fact is, most employers are not qualified therapists. This is often a difficult matter when people want you to do things for them. But know your limitations, and as hard as it is, do not surpass those boundaries.
Depression eats away at the fabric of our economy. I don’t have all the answers to this global epidemic, but I care about those fighting its grip. Sometimes, that’s all en employer can do.
Have you experienced the stronghold of depression? Has depression hampered your work productivity?