Consider this scenario: an employee has bad time keeping, periods of absence and repeated sickness, they find it difficult to focus, they shy away from taking the lead and sometimes they inexplicably leave meetings and struggle to complete projects. They might not attend team events, or leave early seemingly disengaged, they take change negatively and their productivity is below that of their colleagues. Yet they clearly are a very intelligent person, when they are engaged they are a top performer, they are well respected and highly regarded for their knowledge and past performance.
Many would be sympathetic to a business placing the above specimen in a performance management process as they are entitled to do. But I would argue that the conditions described here exemplify someone suffering from a mental health condition, be that anxiety, depression or another mental disorder. Performance management or any other reaction that suggests the person has choice and control is not only counter productive, but also professionally dangerous.
“Mental ill health does not equate to poor performance… employers are losing a lot of talented workers due to a failure to effectively manage mental ill health”https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/the-law-and-mental-health-in-the-workplace/
So knowing that all the above are signs of mental illness in the workplace, is it wise to:
Mental ill health has a profound effect on even the simplest everyday life, its impact is extensive and extreme, without any command or volition from the sufferer, so it stands to reason that they are inexorably condemned to struggle in their work too.
As someone who has suffered from mental ill health myself, I can say wholeheartedly that the battle is much harder to win once stress has passed it’s peak, burnout has been achieved and a clinical diagnosis has been pronounced, for me its all about prevention. The signs a person on the road to burnout exhibits are not individual and obscure, but explicit, definite and exposed to the public – if you know what to look for.
It’s easy for me to be a critic of course, but what do I suggest business does instead:
“Business leaders should recognize that most of what shapes health happens outside of encouraging healthy behaviors. Leaders need to improve the conditions so that employees are able to make healthy choices.”https://www.payscale.com/compensation-today/2018/07/employee-wellbeing
Thankfully the modern workplace is changing, thanks to the efforts of philanthropic individuals who want to see a change in corporate culture and are willing to help lead it, but there’s a long way to go.
Thomas O. Davenport recently wrote an excellent book entitled “The Stress-Reduction Pyramid: A Guide to Managing the Greatest Threat to Employee Health and Productivity” in which he exposed the stark difference between which workplace stressors have the greatest impact in the eyes of employers vs. employees. Rated from 1 to 12, 1 being the most impactful, I think it makes for very interesting reading.