Our friends across the pond have truly started to take a look at one of the biggest issues that many of us face in our lives – depression. So how are they handling this monster, and can we learn a thing or two from their process?
Depression is a common problem challenging millions. Its effects vary from person to person. Some are able to manage through their own means like a exercise, diets and relationships, while others need the help of medication and therapy. Not only does feeling depressed affect your personal life but it can also have a big impact on your workplace productivity. An EU study estimates that 9 in 10 people who suffer from depression are of working age, meaning the effects of depression impact the workplace. This brings about economic costs for employers.
The Independentreported that businesses in Europe have decided to take the matter into their own hands, launching a program to help identify employees who are suffering. They will be looking for symptoms such as lapses in concentration, being forgetful, and indecisiveness. We already know that improving concentration helps employee productivity. So how do we tackle this problem?
Target Depression is a coalition of top organizations in Europe. They’re the ones who’ve committed to tackling this problem with major economic and personal implications. One survey completed by the Depression Alliance charity found that 1 out of 3 people in the UK struggle to cope at work due to “depression, stress or burn-out.” Workers who struggle to cope at work are also workers who struggle to be productive at work, costing their employers dearly. The effects of depression in the workplace can be seen in increased absenteeism, lack of effective cooperation resulting in decreased efficiency, and general low quality of work brought about by distractions.
Depression’s deleterious effects on workplace efficiency is hardly surprising given the increasingly mentally challenging nature of today’s work world. Bill Wilkerson, the chair of Target Depression’s forum, summarized the threat this way:
“Today’s brain-based economy puts a premium on cerebral skills, in which cognition is the ignition of productivity and innovation. Depression attacks that vital asset.”
Emer O’Neill, the charity’s founder, added this regarding the employer’s responsibility to help meet this challenge:
“Depression is the biggest mental health challenge among working-age people and often leads to considerable loneliness and isolation at work. However, many companies aren’t properly equipped to manage employees who suffer from depression so providing support to these individuals in the workplace is essential.”
The goal is a 10 per cent reduction by 2015 in work-related mental ill-health cases and working days lost to mental ill-health, according to Unilever UK’s Tim Munden. They hope to accomplish this through two critical outcomes of forming this kind of business consortium. First, through sharing best practices, they can improve the quality of programs and care provided to workers, cutting down on their own inefficiencies. Second, by presenting a united concern around the issue of depression, they can help eliminate much of the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
So what can you do to combat this issue in your business? Some companies provide something of a mental health toolkit to their employees. The PR firm, Ogilvy, has nutrition sessions as well as sleep and time management education and access to a clinical psychologist. Implementing small steps such as these can make a big difference. Taking an interest in your worker’s mental health will help the company as a whole succeed together. Searching for may ways to become efficient? Reach out to our business improvement consultants today!