SINGLE BLOG ARTICLE

The existence and impact of depression in the workplace has been, and continues to be, the focus of many global studies. It is also a subject much spoken about in the life insurance industry and by those who wish to mitigate risk via the engagement in Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs).

There can be no doubt that this human condition affects many worldwide, with a costly knock-on effect on productivity and the economy.

The World Health Organisation reports that the cost of depression and anxiety to the global economy is US$1 trillion per annum*  and local statistics report that the number of people suffering from major depressive disorder rose by
58% from 1990 to 2013 affecting 407 578 people in South Africa.**

While the reasons for, and causation of, depression are multi-faceted the health of the employment environment has a significant role to play.  Although much good advice can be found with regard to the need to de-stigmatise the condition, encourage more open discussion with Human Resources departments, bolster the use of EAPs and so on, years of professional experience in the assessment and management of workplace incapacity have provided a different perspective.

My experience has repeatedly confirmed that two of the most effective means of preventing the slide into depression emanate from a relationship of trust between employer and employee and the investment in the provision of a personal case management service.  Both are topics of considerable depth, which this short article can only touch on in order to assist in illustrating these points and encouraging a shift towards a new conversation around managing depression in the workplace.

Organisational leadership

The value of trust in leadership ought never to be overlooked or under estimated.  Simply put, when leadership is seduced into being ‘too busy’ or their jobs are believed to be too high up the management chain in the office hierarchy to show personal interest in the lives of their employees, take them for granted and or distance themselves from the energy their staff bring to work, it is only a matter of time before disengagement occurs. There is no upside to employee disengagement.  The inevitable slippery slope of ‘corrective’ performance management, often devoid of addressing the underlying trust issues in the relationship, can quickly morph into a dark mental space for both parties as well as those surrounding them. More so where there had possibly been hope that the workplace would provide some form of respite from home and other environmental pressures.

In fact, leadership – or the lack thereof – has such a direct relationship with the mood of an organisation, its well-being, productivity and profit that it should probably be added to the list of risk criteria used for the rating and pricing of group disability benefits.

Case management

The reference to case management of employees in this context does not refer to the availability of employee support through an EAP or the contact an employee has with such a programme, the take-up of which is generally rather poor at shop-floor level.  Sadly, the well-intended and theoretically well-structured EAP approach simply does not meet the requirements of employees who:

i. have no access to telephones during the working day;

ii. do not have airtime to call the EAP service after hours, if available at that time;

iii. are signed up to an EAP programme non-inclusive of paid supportive counselling, or;

iv. do not have the time, social support or financial capability to travel the distance required to access the help that is on offer.

Case management refers to the engagement of a suitably qualified independent professional who goes into the work environment on a regular basis to consult with those in need of advice, guidance, practical support and a listening ear without the employee fearing being seen in a dim light by in-house management.

Having worked in this type of unique case management role for close to a decade as a member of a global team for a large international organisation in South Africa, it became evident that the combination of independence and real-time assistance encouraged an over-50%-take-up by 400+ employees over time – i.e. over 230 consultations per annum.  Some employees consulted once, others more often, but all knew that help was at hand and did not hesitate to make use of it.  Work days were not lost in making use of the service as employees had to come to the workplace to do so.

Whilst clinically diagnosed depression itself constituted a small percentage of the issues dealt with in case management, the avoidance of disengagement, despondency and low mood through assisting employees with their personal, social, emotional and financial concerns in an entirely confidential on-site process was considerable. Although annual data was collected and analysed in order to assess the impact of the service, the measurement tool in this regard was not so much statistical and experiential in nature as it was good old-fashioned feedback from the very people whose lives and mental health benefited from the service.

A combination of the above-mentioned two strategies can play out when leadership implements a case management system that, by its very existence, verifies organisational care, value and understanding of their employees.

Depression is a human condition which, alongside the need for medical intervention when warranted, is best avoided, managed and treated by honouring the basic right to human dignity to which all are entitled in the Bill of Rights enshrined in our Constitution. There are few (if any) simpler or less costly methods and models to avoid incapacity and disability arising from this global epidemic.***

____________________

* http://fortune.com/2017/10/10/world-mental-health-day-2017-workplace-depression-anxiety/

** https://newcastleadvertiser.co.za/118964/world-health-day-2017-depression-risen-58-per-cent-sa/

*** The financial cost of engaging part-time case managers is neither expensive nor complex and can be structured to include a small union member contribution per month.

Elise Burns Hoffman specialises in disability in the workplace.

 

 

RELATED POSTS

How to determine if an Employee is part of a Designated Group

Posted on August 16, 2018

Building resilience

Posted on August 10, 2018

Labour Law Newsflash 7/18: Latest case law on Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value

Posted on July 25, 2018

When is enough… too much?

Posted on July 20, 2018

Skills Expert Mailer 3/18

Posted on July 6, 2018

Labour Law Newsflash: Fixed-term contracts are alive and well

Posted on June 29, 2018

Insights into the odiousness of OCD

Posted on June 22, 2018

What is the benefit of a learnership for your company?

Posted on May 25, 2018

B-BBEE interpretations

Posted on May 14, 2018

Labour Law Newsflash 4/18: Rhetoric everywhere but what are the solutions?

Posted on May 7, 2018

Managing incapacity in the workplace is a specialist’s domain

Posted on April 19, 2018

Life Is A Team Sport

Posted on April 11, 2018

Proposed amendments to the B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice

Posted on April 5, 2018

Labour Law Newsflash: 3/18

Posted on March 22, 2018

Economic Impact of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment or BEE

Posted on January 25, 2018

Amended Financial Services Sector and Construction Sector Codes

Posted on December 8, 2017

Get to know your Codes of Good Practice

Posted on December 1, 2017

What does the Employment Equity Act say about Disability?

Posted on November 23, 2017

Labour Law Newsflash 12

Posted on November 15, 2017

Equal Pay: Gender Pay Gaps

Posted on November 3, 2017

Labour Law Newsflash 11 of 2017

Posted on October 24, 2017

How to establish effective working relationships with SETAs

Posted on October 17, 2017

Creating a meaningful partnership with your workplace entrants

Posted on October 6, 2017

Sick notes: What does the law say?

Posted on September 22, 2017

How You Can Improve Your Leadership Brand

Posted on September 6, 2017

How Does Black Ownership Affect Preferential Procurement?

Posted on August 31, 2017

The rise of the gig worker

Posted on August 24, 2017

Equal Pay: Internal vs. External Parity

Posted on August 17, 2017

What Is Considered To Be ‘Fair’ in a Disciplinary Hearing?

Posted on August 17, 2017

Who Are Designated Groups Under the Employment Equity Act (EEA)?

Posted on August 16, 2017

What Is The B-BBEE Act?

Posted on August 15, 2017

How To Become The Manager Everyone Loves

Posted on August 14, 2017

Why we need women in the workplace

Posted on August 10, 2017

Make Sure Your Evidence Is Reliable In Your Disciplinary Enquiry

Posted on August 10, 2017

7 Steps You Need to Take Before You Institute Disciplinary Proceedings

Posted on August 8, 2017

Operational Requirements vs Incapacity: What is the difference?

Posted on August 7, 2017

BEE Verification Professional Regulator and Statement 005 on BEE Verification

Posted on August 3, 2017

What is the law about family responsibility leave?

Posted on August 3, 2017

Who are designated employers?

Posted on August 2, 2017

What all business owners need to know about non-compliance with the Employment Equity Act

Posted on August 1, 2017

The secret to the Skills Development Act

Posted on July 31, 2017

Labour Newsflash Edition 8

Posted on July 28, 2017

Who must comply with the Employment Equity Act?

Posted on July 27, 2017

Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value

Posted on July 25, 2017

Double check your employees’ qualifications

Posted on July 20, 2017

All you need to know about the UIF amendments

Posted on July 19, 2017

Reviewed B-BBEE Charter for SA’s Mining and Minerals Industry

Posted on July 14, 2017

Reviewed B-BBEE Charter for SA’s Mining and Minerals Industry

Posted on July 13, 2017

The importance of the difference between an employee and an independent contractor

Posted on July 13, 2017

The legal consequences of not respecting your fellow employees’ cultural beliefs

Posted on July 13, 2017

The importance of Collective Agreements during Strikes

Posted on July 12, 2017

Labour Newsflash Edition 7

Posted on July 6, 2017

What is the state of your organisation’s transformation?

Posted on June 30, 2017

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Equal Pay

Posted on June 22, 2017

Developments in B-BBEE

Posted on June 14, 2017

Labour Law Update 6

Posted on June 8, 2017

Emotional Intelligence

Posted on June 1, 2017

Various B-BBEE Related Matters

Posted on May 25, 2017

Labour Newsflash Edition 5

Posted on May 18, 2017

Are we getting training right?

Posted on May 11, 2017

Employment Equity Compliance: Reporting Obligations

Posted on April 14, 2017

Various Short B-BBEE Issues

Posted on March 31, 2017

The Amended Forestry Sector Code

Posted on March 31, 2017

Labour Newsflash 3

Posted on March 24, 2017

Labour Newsflash 2

Posted on February 24, 2017

Skills Development: Important Updates

Posted on February 17, 2017

National Minimum Wage Announcement

Posted on February 10, 2017

Is African Engagement Poised for Take-Off?

Posted on February 10, 2017

Procurement Regulations

Posted on January 27, 2017

Year End Message

Posted on December 15, 2016

Status of Sector Codes and B-BBEE Transactions

Posted on December 9, 2016

Employment Equity Reporting online deadline is looming

Posted on December 2, 2016

Skills Development Update

Posted on November 25, 2016

Newsflash: The National Minimum Wage

Posted on November 21, 2016

Labour Newsflash Edition 12

Posted on November 18, 2016

Determining “Value” under Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value

Posted on November 8, 2016

B-BBEE Newsflash: Empowering Supplier Status Change

Posted on November 3, 2016

The effect of the new B-BBEE Codes on the vehicle manufacturing industry

Posted on October 28, 2016

Labour Newsflash Edition 11

Posted on October 21, 2016

COMMENTS

There are 0 comments on this post.

ADD YOUR COMMENT