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April 14, 2006
Online 'Employee Happiness Program' Combats Costs of Employee Depression

Could your employees be happier on the job--and at home? Employee depression costs employers plenty in terms of lost productivity, absenteeism, and healthcare costs. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that depression among employees costs businesses in the United States more than $44 billion.

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A recent study covered in JAMA says that each depressed employee costs an employer 5.6 hours per week of lost productivity. Depression can make employees distracted, forgetful, more prone to accidents on the job, and less likely to provide good customer service. It's difficult to act cheerful when you're not.

The Employee Happiness Program, an online program offered through Reflective Learning, may help. Dr. Martin Seligman, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, developed the program based on more than 40 years of research.

The program offers a series of interactive exercises that have been clinically proven to decrease depression in many people and increasing their feelings of well-being and happiness within about 15 days of using the program, according to research study results. The exercises may be completed at home when an employee has the free time to do so. Reflective Learning notes that the program includes an online video from Seligman who describes the purpose of each exercise and the result that is likely to be achieved.

Participants take two brief tests that measure their emotional state prior to program participation and then again after finishing the program. The tests are the Authentic Happiness Index, which determines the employee's present level of happiness, and the CES-D Scale, which measures how many depressive symptoms the employee felt during the past week.

Seligman's interest in increasing individuals' happiness levels stems from the fact that medical research has proven time and again that positive emotion is a strong factor in better physical health and longevity.

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