Conventional wisdom is that healthy and happy employees lead to better results for the workplace.  As a result, many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) for their employees, including the U.S. government. Now, there is additional scientific evidence of that theory in a study involving depression.  

A medical study published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association determined that a systematic approach to identifying and treating depression not only improves the employee’s health but also results in higher job retention, decreased sickness, lower work-absence and increased work productivity.

According to the authors, "this study suggests that enhanced care for depressed workers can have benefits for employers that go beyond improved health and diminished suffering in their workforces and extend to increased work productivity."

What this study also suggests is that is for all the thought that EAP programs are simply a "workplace cost", the programs may actually provide significant value to the workplace.  In other words, investing in an EAP may — at least according to this study — result in additional dividends to the employer in the future. 

For human resources personnel looking to provide benefits to employees that are of true value, this study would bolster the case for employee assistance programs.  Certainly, as employers evaluate the cost of attrition of employees and training new employees, investing in an EAP or similar program may provide a means to reduce turnover and improve productivity. 

As the authors are quick to note, further study in the area is necessary to explore fully the benefits of various EAPs or other intervention programs, but the study, at a minimum, provides an additional scientific basis for considering such programs, particularly in assisting employees with mental health issues.