It’s a Wednesday morning and you drag yourself out of bed after snoozing your alarm for the 20th time. You know you’re running late for work so you rush and make it just in time for the morning meeting. After the meeting, your boss gives you another 5 files to work on and expects you to turn them in by the end of the day. You sink into your chair thinking about how you would rather be on a beach or a hill station enjoying a holiday. You start to feel jittery because of all the work and gulp down 3 cups of coffee to calm your nerves. Most of the times you feel low. The football match which you used to enjoy before, watching it for straight 90 minutes is a task. When you joint the workplace you were the most energetic person around, but now you struggle just to complete your work. With this comes guilt, regret, negative view of future, disturbed sleep and appetite.
If you relate to this story, chances are that you are not happy with your work life. If these symptoms are a daily occurrence, you might be suffering from workplace depression.
Workplace depression has become an area of increasing concern over the past few years. It affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, abilities and behaviour. It not only decreases the happiness and productivity of the employee but also of the whole team. Many companies incur huge losses in absenteeism and lack of interest towards the work by their employees.
The general problem is that many people do not know that they are suffering from depression, and even if they see the symptoms in themselves, they try to hide it from other co-workers or employers. This is due to the stigma around mental illnesses, the fear of losing their jobs and financial instability.
If you see your employees or co-workers demonstrate the following signs, they could be suffering from depression or other mental illnesses.
Increasing frequency of sick days:
If you notice them taking too many sick days and they refuse to tell you the issue even in confidence, they might be suffering from depression. Sometimes common cold, flu and stomach aches are also symptoms of stress.
Depression is usually accompanied by loss of motivation. If your employee or co-worker looks less enthusiastic than usual, they might need help.
Change in social behaviour in workplace:
People suffering from depression often develop a change in social behaviour. Those who are sociable withdraw themselves from friends and colleagues.
Memory loss or lack of interest can be a sign of depression. If your colleague is failing to accomplish assigned duties on time, he could be showing signs of depression.
Fatigue or excessive yawning:
Lethargy is one of the symptoms of depression. Notice if your co-worker is looking more tired than before with circles under their eyes and if they are yawning excessively at work.
Under these circumstances, it is important to create a happy workplace. A workplace should be such in which the employees find the opportunity to socialise, a sense of accomplishment and a source of happiness.
Here are some conditions needed to ensure happy and healthy employees:
- Good working conditions like adequate light, clean air, comfortable temperature and minimal noise.
- Opportunities for employees to use and develop their skills.
- Supportive bosses who don’t bully or criticize the employees.
- Set clear performance expectations and support to meet those expectations.
As an employer, here are some things that you can do:
- Set up an Employee Awareness Program with psychologists and experts to help your employees.
- Take frequent feedback from your employees and improve where needed.
- Give time to your employees for some recreation.
- Incentives to keep the employees motivated and to appreciate them for their work.
As an employee, some things that you can do are:
- If you see your colleague showing signs of depression, offer to help.
- Show them respect and listen to them non-judgmentally.
- Make them aware of their value in the workplace.
- Give them assurance that there is help and hope.
- When your co-worker returns to work after taking a few days off due to mental illness, make them feel welcome and appreciated.
Depression and other mental illnesses can be treated. It is not something that you should hide or be afraid about. Seek help and offer help to anyone you think might need it.