Tips for Motivating Depressed Employees

by / ⠀Startup Advice / December 28, 2012

A recent study found that nearly a quarter of the global workforce suffers from depression. Depressed
employees have a difficult time maintaining productivity and performing to their employers’
satisfaction. You will need to understand how to help employees who are suffering from depression.
Here are some factors you can take into consideration to keep them motivated.

Be Proactive

Depressed employees are unlikely to come to their boss to confront their concerns. They may be
embarrassed or fear that their condition will be used against them. It is up to you to take charge. You
will need to pay attention to your employees and recognize if they exhibit the following symptoms of

  • Their demeanor changes
  • They are more irritable
  • They become more reserved
  • The quality of their work or productivity deteriorates

You will need to step forward and help any employee who appears to be suffering from depression. You
will need to confront your employee about your concerns with them.

Be Specific

Be specific with your employee about what they have done and why it has concerned you. You should
also focus on how things have changed over time. This can put things in perspective for them so they
can understand why you felt it was necessary to confront them.

Lend an Ear

There is a reason your employees are having a hard time. They may be having problems at home or
dealing with frustrations with their other colleagues. Ask them for their input and show that you are
generally concerned and empathetic.

Try to Come Up With a Solution

You may be able to help your employee come up with a solution to their problems. However, you also
need to maintain certain boundaries. If an employee talks about a recent death or divorce, then you
should confine the conversation to your role as their manager. You should continue to be empathetic,
but you probably aren’t a licensed psychotherapist and shouldn’t try to counsel your employees on
those kinds of issues. Even if you were licensed to practice psychotherapy, you would need to maintain
certain boundaries with your employees.

See also  What Entrepreneur Would You Go Back in Time to Meet?

Try to resolve the problem yourself if possible. However, you may need to refer your employee to a
professional inside or outside the organization.

Regardless of what problems the employee is facing, you can probably take some steps to make their
lives easier.

Be Optimistic

As a manager, you are accountable for the quality of your employees’ work. Problems with your
employees’ work due to depression can cause stress for you as well. Try to keep an open mind and
remember that all employees are going to face challenges at some point. Take the necessary steps to
help them overcome their problems and be on their side.

However, you can’t let your concerns for the employee override your obligations. Make sure that
you explain that they will need to improve their performance. You will always need to maintain a fine
balance between providing support for your employees and ensuring that they continue to meet their

Andrew Mitchel is a human resources and entrepreneurship writer. He writes about getting a
leadership degree  and other specialized management programs.

Image Credit:

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


Get Funded Faster!

Proven Pitch Deck

Signup for our newsletter to get access to our proven pitch deck template.