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Return-to-work strategies critical for employees with depression: Report
Sep 11, 2013

Canadian organizations need to put in place graduated return-to-work strategies and other accommodations to help employees who return to work after being treated for depression, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.

The new survey of employees and supervisors found that after a work absence due to depression, two-thirds of employees who return have difficulties concentrating, remembering things, making decisions and performing tasks — even after being medically cleared to return to their jobs.

According to the report, the specific strategies and accommodations required will depend on the individual’s circumstances but might include reducing distractions to improve concentration or providing minutes of meetings to assist with memory and follow-up tasks, found Depression in the Workplace: Insights from Employees and Supervisors.

“Individuals who experience depression can show a significant decline in their work productivity and problems can arise even years after the period of depression. This has a significant impact for employers in terms of lost productivity,” said Louise Chenier, senior research associate at the Conference Board.

“It’s important to stress that once an accommodation measure has been identified and implemented successfully, the employee should be treated like all other employees. The temptation is to lower expectations. This approach can lead to inequities between employees and perceptions of unfairness.”

The results are based on a Conference Board survey of 2,004 individuals (including 727 front-line supervisors). In all, 147 respondents had taken either a short- or long-term leave of absence from work due to depression.
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