Return-to-work strategies needed for employees with depression

Organizations across Canada need to put in place graduated return-to-work strategies to help employees after being treated for depression, according to a report.

The Conference Board of Canada report, Depression in the Workplace: Insights From Employees and Supervisors, finds that two-thirds of employees who return to work have difficulties concentrating, remembering things, making decisions and performing tasks—even after being medically cleared to return to their jobs.

“Employees who return to work after a depressive episode may need assistance with return to work, or even workplace accommodations, to help to ensure their successful reintegration into the workplace,” states the report.

This can help reduce their risk of relapse and further workplace productivity losses as a result of either absenteeism or presenteeism.

However, once an effective accommodation measure has been identified and implemented successfully, the employee should be treated like all other employees, especially during the performance management process.

The report also notes that it’s very important for organizations to ensure that front-line managers and supervisors can recognize the symptoms of a mental health issue, such as depression, in order to offer the appropriate resources and support to an employee in need.

“Without this awareness and education, supervisors are much more likely to treat the resulting productivity losses as a performance issue, rather than ensuring employees receive the appropriate treatment, accommodation measures and support to keep them healthy and productive at work.”

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