Stress and Depression reduce worker productivity ... new study, old news.

I saw it in the paper the other day,  and then it came into my email box from a few different sources.

There's a new study out demonstrating that when workers are depressed,  or when they are stressed at work,  they are not as productive.

I read it carefully,  thinking there must be something new to the story.  But no,  there's nothing new to report.  Writing in the American Journal of Health Promotion,  Professor Debra Lerner reported the findings from a study sponsored by the Tufts University Program on Health, Work and Productivity.

According to Dr. Lerner, depressed workers are:
"often very fatigued and have motivational issues. They also may have difficulty handling the pacing of work, managing a routine, performing physical job tasks and managing their usual workload."
Commenting on this "new" study,  Harvard Medical School Professor Ronald Kessler said that these findings:
"are consistent with a growing body of evidence that depression has important adverse effects on work performance, both absenteeism and on-the-job performance."
This is not part of a "growing body of evidence."  Instead,  it's an established fact,  repeatedly demonstrated.  We've known this for years! 

Dr. Kessler also commented that studies are "beginning to show" that workplace intervention programs aimed at distressed workers are cost-effective.  Once again,  it's entirely old news ... decades old.

Do companies profit from workplace wellness programs focusing on psychological health?  Is there a payoff?  Anyone in corporate America who doesn't know the answer to these questions hasn't been paying attention for the past thirty or forty years. 

This study did include one interesting finding.  It said that the cost of stress and depression may be greater than most all other health related concerns affecting workplace performance,  except for "musculoskeletal problems and insomnia."  What the study should have pointed out,  however,  is that there is a significant correlation between back pain and distress and that insomnia is a symptom commonly associated with depression.  Factor that into the equation and you are left with the conclusion that stress may be the single most important workplace health concern. 

What should also be factored into the equation is an awareness that depression is highly treatable and that workplace stress is largely the result of workplace conditions that can ordinarily be fixed.

The take away message for anyone reading about this study should be this:  There is money to be saved and money to be earned by paying attention to the psychological health of workers.  

Are you a distressed or depressed worker?  I have two online screening tests you can take at the Psychology Resource Information System:  ... one is a depression screening instrument,  the other asks about your psychological well being.  Both are brief and both are free (and anonymous).

Copyright, Paul G. Mattiuzzi, Ph.D.