employee is struggling

If an employee in your organisation underperforms on a consistent basis, do not always assume that they’re simply lazy or unmotivated. In many cases, poor work performance might be caused by underlying mental health concerns. Teodora Ghiur Positive Psychologist and well-being coach at SupportRoom has given some insight on how to recognise if an employee is struggling with a mental health or a personal issue.

  1. Their performance has slipped

Decreasing performance and employee disengagement might be a sign that someone struggles with a persistent personal problem that affects their psychological wellbeing. Some signs related to this are:

  • procrastination or not finishing work on time
  • failing to fulfil important duties
  • lower general work output
  • starting late or leaving early when work is unfinished
  • not meeting specific objectives or performance goals.
  1. Their behaviour is unpredictable

A mental health issue can lead to mood swings and unstable emotions marked by extreme highs and lows. The person might also become agitated or withdrawn easily or show irrational fears and anxieties. An employee who displays unpredictable and erratic behaviour might need more support than they realise.


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  1. They’re taking more sick days than usual

If someone used to be a highly reliable employee but has suddenly started missing work a lot, this might be a sign that there’s someone going on in their lives. Keep in mind that mental health concerns such as depression are one of the leading causes of workplace absenteeism. If missing work and calling in sick become a pattern for one of your employees, try to dig deeper into their problem and see if there’s any way you can support them.

  1. They’re working while they’re unwell

However, someone can also struggle with a mental health issue if they’re always present at work. Presenteeism, which refers to working while sick or at reduced capacity, is another indicator of a potential mental health condition. It may show up in someone’s behaviour like:

  • working at a suboptimal level
  • an inability to focus or not being ‘mentally present’
  • getting distracted easily
  • struggling with low energy levels.
  1. They’re unkempt

Another sign that someone is struggling is when they’re no longer taking care of their physical appearance. This may result in poor personal hygiene, lack of grooming or even dressing inappropriately at work.

Therefore, if you notice any of those signs in any of your employees, try to have a private conversation with them and guide them to an appropriate mental health support service.

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