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What are the impacts of divorce on business productivity?

Impacts of Divorce Cost on Business Productivity

It’s a fact that employees are not the only ones who suffer through a divorce. Businesses also bear the cost of an employee’s divorce from reduced productivity and employee absence.
 
Divorce costs the British economy billions of pounds each year.  There is a clear correlation between employee wellbeing, business productivity and loss of valued staff.
 
Affected are most likely small businesses, as the cost of replacing or getting replacement cover can be draining.
 
The estimated minimum amount of time it takes to get divorced is 4-6 months and during this time, your business is suffering as much as your divorcing employee:

Effects on a business

  • AbsenteeismOne obvious side effect of divorce on an employer is the work time a worker will need to miss.  For time with their legal representatives, and possibly attend court hearings. The more contentious the divorce, the more time off work required.
  • Non-ProductivityGoing through a difficult divorce is one of the most stressful things that a person can go through. This will naturally mean that the employee is less likely to be productive at work. They may lack focus using working hours to deal with the issues.
  • Increased Sick LeavePeople going through a divorce or separation often get symptoms of depression.  Theses include stress related headaches, fatigue and insomnia.  Leading to requested level of sick leave increasing.
  • Increased MistakesThe stress and possible depression that an employee goes through reduces the ability to function.  It can impair judgment and job performance leading to injuries, mistakes, and accidents.
  • Resigning: Employees leave jobs as a result of divorce or separation. Not only is there a risk of losing a valued member of staff but the addition cost of hiring a new team member can be very burdensome. For a small business, losing one member of staff, even for a short amount of time, has a huge impact on productivity, and on the other people that work there.”

How Employers Can Support Divorcing Employees

It is a fact that divorce affects productivity and effectiveness subsequently it’s an issue businesses really cannot afford to ignore.

There are several things HR departments can do to minimise individual distress and workplace disruption. Here are some tips on how you achieve this:

How to achieve this

  • Have a Divorce Policy: Have a policy regarding absence for issues such as lawyer appointments or court appearances. Make sure your staff are aware of the policy and who they should approach to discuss particular difficulties.
  • Provide Training: Provide adequate training to managers/team leaders and supervisors so that they can deal with divorcing employees appropriately.
  • Be Approachable: An open-door policy where employees feel that they can tell you their situation. An ongoing dialogue to accommodate the divorcing person’s changing needs.
  • Show Compassion: Show compassion but don’t be patronising. Listen to the employee, offer appropriate help and ask whether there is anything you can do for them.
  • Provide Confidentiality: Information about an employee’s divorce is private under data protection legislation. Discuss with the employee the level of information that other members of staff should be aware of.
  • Offer Practical Support: Outline steps that people need to go through to minimise stress. Signpost expert help available. Discuss how they can manage their work tasks and working hours. Employees will need access to certain financial information i.e. pension valuations and tax information. Make this information readily available. Something as simple as allowing frequent breaks can go a long way. Do not offer advice that you are not qualified give. It is not always easy for employees to work out who to speak to.  So having contact details to hand will often help. Look for practitioners with relevant experience. Collaborative law and mediation are two methods by which couples can resolve their differences in a constructive, amicable and child-focused way.
  • Be Flexible: A review of working hours to accommodate new childcare responsibilities as divorce is similar to bereavement.   It brings the same sense of loss and, as such, it should be approached with similar compassion.
  • Educate Other Staff: When faced with a colleague’s divorce, many people make remarks and offer unhelpful advice. Remarks such as, ‘You’re better off without him’, ‘You’ll find someone else’ or ‘I know just how you feel’ are not helpful. Discussing the use of apt language in dealing with personal issues. This will give employees an chance to clarify their own personal feelings and help in dealing with a distraught colleague. There may be a need to address office gossip.
  • Be Mindful of Bullying: Absence due to divorce can place burdens on co-workers and line managers subsequently pressurising (inadvertently or otherwise) or bully a divorcing employee into returning to work.
  • Make a Plan: Completion of tasks and what deadlines need to be met and whether your employee in a position to complete them in time/what back up do you have if they can not? Have a short-term and long-term plan. Some employees’ divorces may drag on for years, so you need to be put in appropriate ongoing support to allow for this.

Carol Sullivan, Founding Director

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