Ignoring Mood Disorder Issues at Work – Some Implications

Let us consider a case of Mood Disorder to highlight some implications.

An employee in a Port Corporation suffered work related stress. As a result, he was absent through stress leave for 3 months. When he returned to work, he found it hard to cope. He went away on stress for a further 6 months. Upon his return to work, he had to be provided counselling and personalised training to enable him to cope. He slowly got to be a trusted employee who was loyal to the organisation and had improved performance.

The question however is, how could this have been avoided or managed better? Indeed what were the costs to the organisation for not managing this case well?

When the employee was initially stressed, no one spoke to him. He did not undertake a self assessment to seek help. His Manager started to handle the issue as a disciplinary problem rather than as an issue where the employee required help. The consequences were that he had been at work for more than six months suffering from stress and depression before he finally went to seek medical help. During the six months, he was at work on numerous occasions when he did nothing. There was additional pressure on other staff to deliver his work.

This case highlights the costs and implications of such issues at work. These are:

• Presenteeism – An employee can be present at work when suffering from this condition. However, on the basis that the employee does not perform at work, the costs of time lost are substantial. It is estimated that costs of presenteeism are 3 times more than that of absenteeism.
• Teamwork Implications – With an employee suffering from such a condition, other team members have to pick up additional work. They often complain about the extra workload.
• Absenteeism – Substantial absenteeism costs are incurred when an employee who suffers from such a condition.

These are some direct issues faced by organisations. Other issues faced include:

• Staff Turnover – As a result of staff surffering from this condition, the extra workload causes employees to leave work.
• Workplace safety – The person suffering from Mood Disorder can be on a high and not worried about workplace safety.
• Staff Morale – Morale can be low when someone suffering from this condition and continues to work without getting proper advice.
• Stigma – People who suffer from this condition also suffer from shame and therefore do not raise their issues with Managers or anyone else.

There are a range of other issues. Many companies have an employee assistance program or other health and fitness or wellbeing programs. A recent survey found that none of these programs effectively deal with such issues at work. Organisations are therefore urged to consider:

• Staff Survey – This will assist in detecting and attending to issues that contribute to employee wellbeing.
• Organisation audit – Organisations should periodically conduct audits on Mood Disorder issues.
• Managerial Training – Organisations must train Managers to identify and manage Mood Disorder issues at work.
• Staff Training – Staff within organisations can be trained on Mood Disorder to enable self detection and identification of issues. This will assist staff in seeking help before the problem sets in.

Our advice is do not ignore Mood Disorder.

Kris Varma is an Expert in advising organisations on Mood Disorder issues at work. Working in Sydney Australia, he is a sought after speaker at events to raise awareness on Mood Disorder. He has previously written other articles on resumes such as “Common Errors in Resumes”. He is qualified in designing and conducting staff surveys on Mood Disorder.

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