Work environment & managers have more of an impact on workplace depression than workload…

Have you previously considered that the main factor causing workplace depression is a huge, long to-do list and workload pressures?  If so, prepare to have your perceptions changed…  A Danish study led by the Department of Occupational Medicine at Aarhus University Hospitaldiscovered that ‘heavy workload has no effect on whether or not employees become depressed.  Instead, it is the work environment and the feeling of being treated unfairly by the management that has the greatest effect on an employee’s mood.’

The research of 4,500 public employees consisted of questionnaires and personal interviews to determine who suffered from depression.  The questionnaires focused on the impact of ‘justice in the workplace’, which looks at consistency of the procedures behind decision-making, cooperation between colleagues, equal, kind and considerate treatment in the workplace and by managers specifically and whether participants felt their views, issues or thoughts were listened to by their manager.  The employees’ level of sense of justice was a key impacting factor on the likelihood of development of depression.

The reason high levels of work pressure may be originally linked to depression in people’s consciousness could be due to the depression which has derived out of the work environment or manager issues, making work assignments seem overwhelming and unmanageable.  The research supports how looking at the way employees view their workplace environment and the changes that can be made, can have much more impact in preventing depression.  Grynderup comments: “I recommend a management style in which there is a clearly expressed wish to treat employees properly – combined with a transparent organisational structure.” 

Recognising the significance of being a personable manager is key… Focusing on recognition, showing empathy and being fair and equal will work wonders on boosting employees’ spirits and happiness at work.  It is important that managers recognise that although this study points towards making changes in management styles and the work environment, managers need to recognise the requirement to support their employees through their workloads.  If an employee is finding they have too much work on or are finding it too challenging, then management should take the responsibility to step in and offer the support, tools, training or development plan to guide them.

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