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Should HR Be Concerned Over Seasonal Depression?
January 25, 2021
Remote Workforces Might Have Their Productivity Challenged by Seasonal Depression
HR professionals are under pressure to manage their workforce's transition to remote environments, manage COVID-19 efforts, and now worry about how seasonal affective disorder (SAD) will impact their staff. Many are already challenged with managing the dual responsibilities of professional work and parenting while at home, and now they must cope with seasonal depression.
2020 has been a year to forget, with many workforces having to balance their health, the health of their loved ones, along with financial concerns. HR managers might soon have to deal with not only pandemic fatigue but the mental health of their workforce.
Seasonal Depression Concerns Grow for HR Managers
SAD is a recurring depression that typically happens during the early months of winter and sometimes lasts into spring. There is no direct cause, but reduced daylight has had a significant impact on the moods of entire populations and could exacerbate existing mental health conditions. Sleep patterns also take a major hit during these months, along with the reduction of vitamin D consumption, causing some people to experience high levels of irritability, low energy, and slip into further depressive states.
With the sudden shift to remote work and the increased stressors from the pandemic, seasonal depression has the potential to slow the pace of workforces and impact bottom lines.
Pressure Mounts on Remote Workers
Workforce stress-levels are likely at an all-time high during these winter months, which can drag into 2021. Managers might find their employees have difficulty concentrating on tasks, meeting productivity standards, and call in sick more frequently. If seasonal depression persists, HR managers could be facing concerns regarding absenteeism. They could be left scrambling to recruit new workers to fill in the holes created by seasonal depression.
HR managers will have to manage new challenging mental health issues and further consider how an employer’s duty of care obligations connect to the mental health of their workforces.
Communication and Compassion Necessary in Corporate Environments
HR managers need to be closely connected to their workforces during these challenging months. Extended communication between workers and HR could reveal potential concerns that need to be worked out before productivity declines. Employers could be hearing that workers need counseling services, flexible working schedules, or time off to refocus.
An employer has the responsibility to offer a safe workplace for their employees, and with the remote nature of work in 2020, mental health concerns have been quickly pushed into the spotlight. When an employer shows understanding and compassion related to mental health, they gain a focused, productive, and loyal workforce.
HR Might Need to Get Creative to Address Work-Related Issues
Remote talent will be seeking out creative options from their managers to deal with the detrimental impacts of seasonal depression. This could come in the form of flexible working hours, a revised benefits plan, time off, or prompt further discussions regarding childcare obligations.
Out-dated comments regarding mental health, such as “it could be worse” or “tough it out,” have no place in today’s work environment. HR and business owners need to remove the stigma associated with mental health and focus on keeping their teams healthy and happy.
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