Divorce is one the most stressful events that a person can go through in their life, and it is considered to impact people in a similar way to a bereavement. With 42% of marriages in the UK ending in divorce, it is an issue that employers ignore at their peril.
If an employee is going through a divorce, it is likely to impact on their ability to perform their duties and fulfill their commitment. Divorce can bring devastation in many ways, and if not addressed sufficiently, your business is likely to suffer from unproductivity and increased sick leave.
Having a sufficient care plan for your employee is not only crucial for your workforce, it is imperative for your business. Here are is an essential checklist for every employer:
Prepare: Don’t wait until a member of staff is blighted by divorce before you sit up and take notice. Prepare a suitable policy to meet the needs of your workforce and your business. Key issues to consider include the period of leave/flexibility to be offered, the level of support available and what is expected of you and your staff.
Share: Once you have established a policy, don’t keep it behind lock and key – inform all your staff. This simple step can increase morale and helps employees to feel connected with their employer. Happy staff makes for increased productivity. It also sends out the right message to potential employees and helps to attract the right people to your business.
Make Aware: It is great if all your workforce is aware that you have a policy but that does not necessarily mean they will approach you when they find themselves going through the stress of divorce. If you are aware that a member of staff is going through a divorce, you need to approach them and make them aware of all the necessary information. Signpost them to the right people to request time off, to review their tasks and duties, and to obtain important information regarding their income and pension.
Be Fair – When you have an employee going through a divorce, be fair in how you manage the situation, especially when discussing time off from work and the degree of flexibility permitted. The employee may need time to make phone calls at work, and they may even need regular breaks if they are feeling down. Whilst it is important to look after the divorcing employee, employers also need to be mindful of the impact on other team members if they are having to take on extra duties due to employee absence.
Care: Create a caring environment, but ensure that you and your team members do not become overbearing. Keep an employee’s divorce issue confidential, but if it does become common knowledge in the office, ensure that it does not become gossip and that insensitive remarks are not made. It is worth educating staff members on how to handle team members when they are going through a particular period of stress such as divorce.
Pair – Pair up with other professionals such as accountants, divorce experts, and psychologists to offer a support package to your staff. This does not necessarily mean paying for services on your employee’s behalf but having a bank of contacts that you can signpost for a free consultation.