…But life happens.
Sometimes employees are upset or not working as hard as they once did, whether because of personal problems or unfortunate social situations.
As their leader, you may wonder how to tell if your employees are showing signs of depression.
Keep reading to learn how to identify workplace depression along. We also offer a couple of tips on how to approach a depressed worker.
The Signs of Workplace Depression
Depression in the workplace may be difficult to look out for, especially if your Bachelor’s degree isn’t in psychology.
Depression is not balling up and crying in a dark corner or isolating yourself in a cubicle and never talking to people.
Types of depression can range from a state of low moods to immense hopelessness and everything in between. These states of being can strongly impede cognitive functioning and working relationships.
The constant negative thinking patterns brought about by a depressive mood set can welcome in unhealthy thoughts, including suicidal ones. Depression can be a very personal mental health issue that is hard to spot in certain individuals.
However, the Mental Health Foundation has provided guidelines for employees, coworkers, and friends to look out for:
- Physical signs of self-harm (such as seeing scarring on the wrists)
- Decreased appetite
- Loss of interest in once exciting things
- Difficulty concentrating
- Persistent states of sadness
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Anxious tendencies
- Comments about death and suicide
- Strong statements about hopelessness
A general lower state of being may seem to plague your employee.
These signs can come to fruition in different ways. Once productive employees may suddenly start missing deadlines. Once excited employees may no longer have anything to say in meetings.
It is a general rule of thumb to look for major behavior and productivity shifts. These could be major indicators that there is a problem afoot.
Unhealthy Workplace Situations
While the workplace environment may not exclusively cause an employee to become depressed, conditions within the workplace may not be doing much to help a depressed employee.
Having your employees work long, irregular hours will only encourage the fatigue and tiredness that come along with depressing thoughts. Working these excruciating kinds of hours also makes it difficult to have a life outside of work, not to mention the lack of sleep that often comes with irregular, demanding work schedules.
Having a routine that is – perhaps – too scheduled may also contribute to depression in the workplace. Overwhelming redundancy in workplace operations may not be stimulating enough for some employees.
Making projects or due dates that are too challenging, or maybe even impossible, also lends to an upsetting workplace environment. It is always important to recognize employee strengths and be sure to help your employees grow and learn without having goals that are overly strenuous.
All businesses have to deal with difficult situations, which may or may not involve difficult customers. Handling these situations may be part of an employee’s daily tasks, but it is important to support any employee that is enduring any sort of heat for any issues with or complains about the company or its products or services.
The goal is to create a productive yet supportive workplace that recognizes hardworking staff.
What Happens When Depression Goes Unnoticed?
As depression unfolds over time, small behavior changes follow. Then, major shifts of behavior changes follow.
These shifts could bring major consequences, which could include unsafe decision-making, poor communication, and even dramatic lash-outs.
Depressed employees may start missing deadlines or stop producing quality work. They may not be properly dressed or start coming later and later. They will be less dedicated to the company overall because of the war going on in their mind.
The last thing that these people need to hear is that they’re fired.
They need support. They need help. They need someone to care.
There are many ways that you can go about supporting these employees and turn your work environment around.
What You Can Do As Their Boss
The number one thing that you should make sure of as a boss is that your staff is comfortable. If they aren’t comfortable, good work will not be done.
Vulnerability in the workplace is one of the biggest challenges for all businesses. Being open with your boss about your mental health – especially if your thoughts aren’t positive – is nearly impossible to do. There are many fears about termination or judgment that circle around the idea of sharing mental health in the workplace.
The number one thing you can do is to put an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place. EAPs are fantastic for giving your employees a place to voice their personal problems, whether these involve issues at home or at work. Learning more about EAPs is important to establishing a healthy working environment and giving a platform for your employees to get the help that they need.
Having staff members who are trained in identifying signs of depression and other mental health issues is also a great idea to ensure you’re supporting your team. These professionals will be able to spot the signs and help your employees before something goes wrong.
Along with preventing the unhealthy workplace situations that we discussed earlier, it would be beneficial to encourage regular, clear communication overall. Stress builds up over time when expectations aren’t being met or not even being set. Communicating your wants and needs while taking their wants and needs into consideration is important for a smooth-running business.
Overall, the best thing you can do is support your employees. You are their leader in the workplace.
As you carry on with your business, it is important to know how damaging depression can be. It is important to remember that depression is a complex chemical imbalance, and it is not the employee’s fault or your fault.
Be sure to support your employees and provide the mental health resources that they need. These resources may even be useful for you in times of trouble.
Remember to reach out and support your team, especially when facing possible workplace depression. You’re all in this together.
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