Eliminating the stigma of workplace depression
A coalition of 300 U.S. businesses and the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health are hoping that employers will take a step in the right direction by striving to eliminate the workplace stigmas typically associated with depression.
The groups joined together to launch an online initiative in May 2013 called the Right Direction, and the new website offers an array of resources designed to increase awareness about the debilitating effects of depression and to encourage people who may suffer from the chronic condition to seek help.
The website features articles and checklists that explain how to identify the warning signs of depression. The resources also encourage people to reach out and help others, emphasizing that it’s a sign of strength and compassion to assist those in need.
“A growing number of businesses are becoming more aware about the negative impact employees who are depressed can have on their organizations,” said Clare Miller, director of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, an affiliate of the American Psychiatric Foundation in Arlington, Va. “So when the Employers Health Coalition Inc. approached us with the idea of creating an online resource for employers and their employees, we knew it was a good idea and the right time to launch this website.”
The initiative’s primary goal is to increase awareness of depression’s debilitating effects and to encourage anyone who needs care to seek it. The website has two components: One focuses on providing information to employers on implementing workplace awareness campaigns. The second component aims to help individuals who might be struggling with depression or who know someone who might have a problem. All resources on the website are free.
According to Miller, the website offers information that human resource professionals should find particularly helpful, such as downloadable PowerPoint presentations and printable posters.
HR professionals from several member companies of the Canton, Ohio-based Employers Health Coalition Inc. review the website’s materials and information. Miller said their feedback and suggestions have been invaluable in helping to hone the website’s message and improve the resources available.
Response to the initiative has been enthusiastic, and traffic to the website brisk, according to Miller. During the first month online, the Right Direction page had approximately 2,500 visits and more than 7,000 page views. In addition, more than 400 people registered to participate in two webcasts that introduced and explained the resources and tools featured on the webpage. Miller said traffic on the Right Direction site should continue to increase during the next few months, especially as National Mental Health Awareness Week (Oct. 6-12) and National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 10) approach.
“The bottom line is that response to Right Direction has been very good,” Miller said. “And we’re confident that it will have a very positive impact on employers and their employees. The cost of depression — both in economic terms and personal tolls — is very high, and we believe the new initiative can help reduce those costs.”
A study conducted by the Harvard University Medical School in 2011 calculated that untreated mental illness costs U.S. businesses $105 billion in lost productivity every year. And additional studies from the National Institutes of Health have estimated that depression in the workplace may cost employers as much as $44 billion a year in lost productivity and employee absenteeism.
“The economic impact depression has on business is pretty well known and documented,” Miller said. “So I take it as a very encouraging sign that more employers want to raise employee awareness and find help for those who need it.”
Bill Leonard is a senior writer for SHRM.
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Oregon farm and ranch store expands
Coastal Farm and Ranch plans to spend millions on a new store, according to NRtoday.com.
The report indicates construction for a new 40,000-sq.-ft. building will begin early next year and cost about $5.2 million.
Coastal Farm & Ranch operates 12 locations in the Pacific Northwest.
Sears Canada CEO jumps ship
Sears Canada CEO Calvin McDonald has resigned from his position for a new job opportunity. The move comes in the midst of a three-year restructuring initiative to strengthen the retailer’s position in the region against new competition from Target and Wal-Mart.
Previous executive VP and COO Douglas C. Campbell, who is also a retired Marine Corps officer, took his place as CEO and president, as well as a member of the company’s board of directors, effective Tues., Sept. 24.
"I am excited about the opportunity to lead a company with such a great brand and history, and to continue to improve the performance of Sears," said Campbell. "I am eager to move us forward, to work closely with our management team and to continue to engage our customers and our 25,000 associates to better serve families and communities across Canada."
Sources told the Globe and Mail that McDonald’s resignation involved a disagreement with Sears Holdings Corp over "the pace at which capital was being deployed to keep the momentum of the transformation going."
McDonald’s retail strategy involved focusing resources on private labels and already-strong verticals such as women’s dresses, swimwear, coats, baby goods, appliances and mattresses, according to the news source. Electronics and toys, two of its struggling categories, were discontinued.
According to multiple media reports, retail analyst Keith Howlett of Desjardins Securities said in a note to investors that McDonald’s resignation will likely dampen the retailer’s progress.
“Our view was that McDonald was a talented, energetic retail executive and might have been able to accomplish a turnaround against what we perceive as long odds,” he wrote. “Our speculation is that McDonald may have held differing views from those of the controlling shareholder, Sears Holdings, on the appropriate level of capital spending for store renovations, on the sale of under-market leases back to landlords (Yorkdale, Mississauga Square One and others) and with respect to the outsourcing of head office positions to other countries.”
Reportedly, McDonald told Reuters in January that he was dissatisfied with the company’s progress thus far.
"I want to thank the associates of the Company for all of their hard work during my time at Sears Canada," said McDonald. "It has been an honour to lead an iconic Canadian retailer, and I look forward to your continued success."