September 4, 2012 7:36 AM Subscribe
What else can I do as an employer to motivate/accommodate my depressed employee? Or, barring that, fairly and effectively end our engagement with him?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I run a small consulting company. We have about 6 full-timers and a handful of other staff. One of our employees is clinically depressed. His attendance at work for the past nine months has been absolutely dismal. We're talking 45-60 hour (two week) pay periods when he should be hitting 80 (or at least around 70+).
He regularly misses at least one day a week, frequently comes in after noon and leaves around 5pm or 6, and has no-called/no-showed a handful of times. He is completely unreliable.
We've tried carrots, we've tried sticks. He used to be full-time salaried, but he burned through his 3 weeks of PTO and was so patchy that I had to switch him back to an hourly W-2. We offered him a cash bonus if he'd just come in to work and hit 70 billable hours over the next two weeks, but he couldn't manage that. He's explained that he recently was broken up with by his girlfriend and/or is depressed and/or any number of other issues. Regardless, he continues to say he'll try to improve and never does.
We haven't been able to just outright fire him yet because we still need those 25-30 or so hours every week and because finding a suitable replacement is tough. Tougher still when we're very busy like we are. But it's about the time where he's practically doing more harm than good, even if we try to put him on not-time-sensitive tasks.
I have a very busy September on the books. I have solid work for all of my staff. They typically work in paired teams, so not being able to put him on a team is devastating to me since I can't work a one-man team. We're actively interviewing candidates and the like, but we're not close to hiring a new worker, so:
What can I do, if anything, to motivate someone like this? I understand that clinical depression is a serious illness and that it can manifest this way. I'm also weary of any potential liability I may have from firing him, even though we have well-documented cause over the past nine months. When he shows up, he usually works at a somewhat reasonable pace, gets along well with everyone in the office, and otherwise gets stuff done, mostly.
He's (voluntarily) told us he's on anti-depressants, and I presume he's either seeing a doctor or therapist, but I don't ask those questions for obvious reasons. At this point, there either needs to be a sea change in the next 30 days, or we need to transition towards letting him go effectively.
We're paid up on unemployment and workman's comp, but we're a low margin business who can't support having an employee that contributes basically nothing any more. (If he were to make a workman's comp claim, would that cost us directly? Is depression eligible for workman's comp, even if the depression isn't related to a workplace injury?)
I get that this is something I, even as an accommodating employer, can do very little about and that he's dealing with his condition. I'm just asking if there's any other things I could consider, or barring that, if I need to be concerned about liability/financial ramifications if I need to let him go. (I have basically zero expectation he would pursue anything legally or otherwise, though we'd instruct him that he's eligible for unemployment, of course.)
Any ideas or perspective would be helpful. We've really tried everything. When he first started with us, this wasn't a problem. But starting into his second year or so, things have gone downhill dramatically, and while I'm trying to stay understanding of that and how it may not be in his control, I can't keep him on payroll if he's literally not contributing anything.
I'm trying to be fair and I'd really like to keep him on board, but it's seriously hurting us at this point and I don't know what else to do.
Thanks in advance!