Work stress and depression are taking a toll on employees.
In a hypercompetitive global economy, organizations must be “on” 24/7. Yet this scramble for perpetual performance is taking a harsh toll on employees. They relentlessly push to get ahead and stay ahead—working longer days, emailing after hours, taking fewer vacations—often with little acknowledgment for their efforts. The result is a workforce that’s not just disengaged (Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report revealed that 70 percent of U.S. employees fall into this category), but also stressed and depressed.
And here’s the irony, says Graeme Cowan: The constant hustle aimed at increasing productivity and profitability actually decreases both.
A big part of the problem is a phenomenon called presenteeism—meaning that people are physically at work but not engaged and certainly not fully functioning. In fact, the JAMA study found that presenteeism accounts for greater losses in productivity among depressed workers than does absenteeism.
“The loss in productivity caused by depression is extremely difficult to track because it manifests via poor performance,” notes Cowan. “But companies that don’t address the elephant in the boardroom will suffer—even if they don’t know they’re suffering at all.”