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Challenge for employers: Increasing sickness absence due to depression

Joanna Pidanty - March 13, 2024 - 0 comments

Depression is identified as a mental health problem, but it is also a social and economic problem. The disease limits the potential and professional activity. Statistics on the reasons for absence leave no illusions – the number of sick leaves due to depression is growing. How can employers improve the situation?

Unhealthy atmosphere

Work has strong ties to mental health. Occupational life events can cause burnout, but also depression. Stress related to the job environment, unfavourable life background, biological conditions can all lead to health problems and difficulties in performing work. The presence of depression reduces productivity and increases the number of errors, which is why it can become costly. Lack of support, sufficient knowledge and ability to cope with stress increases the risk of mental health problems. For the sake of safety and physical health, all employees should learn how to carry loads so that their spines do not suffer. Unfortunately, it is still not standard to train employees how to endure loads so that their mental health does not suffer. Among the environmental and psychosocial factors that play a role in the context of occupational depression, one can point to: excessive stress and control, exorbitant requirements, lack of acceptance for errors, lack of respect for the work-life balance, low sense of belonging. On top of that, there are inappropriate communication and relationships. High pressure of the work environment exhausts the ability to cope with the requirements and, as a consequence, can lead to mental health disorders. The atmosphere at work, which is unfavourable for mental health, results mainly from the organizational culture. The state of affairs can change the decisions and behaviour of employers.

The problematic absenteeism

The disease is associated with suffering and the ability to perform professional duties decreases. Like any other serious illness, depression requires treatment and the employee may receive sick leave for a longer period of time. For the employer, this entails a certain disorganization in the functioning of the company and replacement costs. The solution is not to stigmatize sickness absence, which will result in the inefficient presence of the affected person at work. The presence of a sick employee in the workplace, who is unable to work efficiently, is detrimental to each party. The phenomenon called presentism/presenteeism generates hidden costs for the employer and prevents the employee from recovering. Although employees do not have to share sensitive information about their health, it is easy to imagine that returning to work after a long (unexplained although authorized) absence can be difficult and generate stress. Therefore it is necessary to build an atmosphere of understanding and open communication. Without dialogue, there is uncertainty and a tense atmosphere on both sides. This is important because under stressful circumstances, depression can recur. Alarming statistics about the increase in sick leave due to depression should become an incentive for employers to act and overcome the problem in their own backyard. The solution to problematic absenteeism is to take care of mental health, because in this way depression can be avoided.

Employees suffering from depression do not want to share the reason for their absence for fear of stigmatization.

Promote health

Not all organizations treat employee health as a priority of their business, although there is no shortage of those that implement well-being initiatives. Today, such actions are a necessary responsibility of the employer. Full health allows for commitment, efficiency and effectiveness of work, and this drives the success of the entire organization. The popular concept of well-being is mainly implemented by activities aimed at maintaining the body’s energy. Of course, many aspects of physical health have an impact on mental well-being, but with a high mental load related to work, fitness classes or “fruit Thursdays” will prove insufficient. The spread of the problem of depression poses a challenge for the entire economy. This problem should be indicative for the employers of the need to improve the situation by acting for the mental health of their own employees. Failure to prevent mental health issues causes health problems that will exclude employees from professional activity. The comprehensive well-being of employees affects the company’s results, and it is a great showcase of the organization. Employee health translates into employers’ business, which is why health promotion is worth the effort.

Relaxation zone

Supporting mental health is worth starting with creating a supportive and friendly atmosphere, good conditions going beyond wage benefits, and those required by occupational health and safety regulations. Even if there is no team developing a well-being strategy in the organization, there is a way for mental health to be taken care of, enabling the employees to learn how to relax. VR can take care for well-being in the workplace. A device designed for this purpose is available on the market, and it utilizes potential of Virtual Reality to protect and strengthen the mental health of employees. It is the VR TierOne GO mobile relaxation headset that offers a friendly resting environment. In the virtual environment, relaxation is carried out using an appropriate image of nature in the form of VR 360° videos. Relaxation in the virtual sphere is supported by relaxation music and the voice of guide present in each virtual relaxation session. The VR TierOne GO mobile relaxation headset, which does not require a cable connection, is a convenient compact tool for building mental resilience, balancing tension and stress of your employees. 10-minute spherical relaxation videos allow you to distance yourself and gain strength to face tasks. The presence of relaxation equipment in the organization is a clear signal that the employee’s mental health counts. Equip your company with VR TierOne GO relaxation headset and counteract unprofitable mental health losses!

The VR TierOne GO headset is a convenient tool for maintaining the mental health of your employees.

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