What Should You Do If An Employee is Depressed?

Joe Weinlick
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When you’re managing a company, helping an employee with depression requires a careful balance. On one hand, you’re concerned for your employee’s health and well-being. On the other hand, you have a responsibility to keep your company running. By approaching the situation with care, you can help the worker without sacrificing business performance.

Talk to the Employee

When you notice that an employee is struggling, initiating a conversation is a great first step. Set up a private meeting and explain the changes you've notice in the worker’s behavior or performance. Don't mention the word "depression." Instead, let him know you’re concerned and want to help in any way you can. This gives the employee an opportunity to open up or ask for help.

Offer Help or Resources

Once you’ve reached out to an employee with depression, you can connect him to company resources to get assistance. Let the employee know about any counseling sessions or medical assistance benefits that are included in your company’s insurance plan or wellness program. If you discover that he’s dealing with a tough problem at home, you might offer to set up a leave of absence. Keep in mind that an employee with depression might hesitate to take action if he thinks it could hurt his career. When that’s the case, it may be useful to reassure him that he won’t be penalized for seeking help.
Maintain Confidentiality

As you try to help an employee with depression, it’s crucial to maintain confidentiality and privacy. After all, if the employee feels that he may be belittled or judged, he may not feel comfortable taking advantage of company resources. As someone in power, you can help by saying, “If something in your personal life is causing problems, you don’t need to share any details with me or any other employee. I can refer you to a completely confidential program that might help.” That way, neither you nor the employee need to worry about personal details affecting your working relationship down the road.
Set Boundaries

As a manager or business owner, you can’t force an employee with depression to seek help. If you have exercised all of the options within your power and the worker’s performance is still suffering, it’s important to set boundaries. You might say something like, “I understand that you’re struggling, and I want to help. However, I also have a responsibility to customers and other stakeholders. I’d like you to consider a temporary leave of absence; we’ll welcome you back as soon as you’re ready.” In doing so, you give the person time to heal, let them know you care and reassure them that their job is waiting.

A caring approach can go a long way toward helping an employee with depression. By balancing the needs of the employee and your company, you can build a stronger, healthier workforce without damaging operations.

Photo courtesy of callous seo at Flickr.com


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