Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, so there’s a good chance you will manage someone with the disorder during your career. It is also likely that your employee will come directly to you to request accommodations rather than going to HR. To prepare, learn what you can about the condition. If you understand the symptoms, you’ll be able to better anticipate employee needs. You can proactively help in several ways. Allow flexible hours: Research shows flexible work hours actually increase productivity, commitment to the organization, and retention. Also, reinforce the employee’s successes: Repeated victories over time create positive work experiences and increase confidence. Break down large projects into parts: Shorter-term deadlines allow employees to see large projects as smaller, more manageable tasks. Play to the employee’s strengths: If they feel like tasks are designed for them, they’ll be more likely to view the tasks as important, complete them more quickly, and feel validated. Lastly, familiarize yourself with available resources (not only for your employee, but also for yourself as you navigate these conversations). Many companies nowadays have free Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or other forms of assistance. Proactively sharing these resources with your team might make them more likely to approach you before any problems seriously compromise their work performance.

This tip is adapted from “How to Manage an Employee with Depression,” by Kristen Bell DeTienne, Jill M. Hooley, Cristian Larrocha, and Annsheri Reay

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