Depression at Work
IT’s interesting that while people who haven’t got jobs or have been recently laid off tend to despair, actually having a job doesn’t ensure happiness.
A global study reported in The Wall Street Journal claims that almost a quarter of the global workforce is depressed. Apparently, 92 per cent of people surveyed linked the state of their mental health to job performance and only 12 per cent claimed to be optimistic on the work front. The respondents came from a variety of industries, but mainly in the financial and professional areas.
The report mirrors the results of a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found 20 per cent of the workforce suffers from some mental disorder, with depression and substance abuse being the most common. In Australia, the Black Dog Institute has published a book, Tackling Depression at Work, to help employees and managers find ways of dealing with a growing problem that drains the life- force out of people and sucks the marrow out of the economy.
Sick leave — including for stress- related issues — is so chronic that Flight Centre a few years ago started putting into place ‘‘wellness’’ programs to ensure its employees maintained a good level of wellbeing and mental health.
‘‘If staff are happier and healthier, they’ll be more productive and there will be less absenteeism or resigning,’’ a Flight Centre global human resources executive told me after putting selected staff members through a work-life balance program. ‘‘Sick days dropped by 25 per cent, and staff turnover was down dramatically, saving the company in excess of $250,000 that year,’’ he said, explaining that employee care was the only way forward. In the US, lost productivity due to mental health issues costs over $1 billion annually.
The types of things that make people feel depressed include lack of control, with many workers feeling insecure in view of another possible economic crisis. Others feel unacknowledged for their efforts and have negative relationships with bosses.
Many workers feel they are ageing and life is passing them by. Then there are those who become depressed being under artificial lights all day, in poorly ventilated spaces, or without a sense of corporate community. This is where enlightened companies such as Flight Centre, IBM, Nestle and other corporations that foster happiness via work-life balance programs, get the thumbs-up.
The struggling global economy is only one reason for depression at work. But with tough times again looming, it won’t help businesses if they don’t have a healthy workforce on their side.
Are you happy at work? Have you ever felt depressed?
STORY The Australian
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