When a relationship falls apart, the ordeal of separation is upsetting and difficult to navigate. Undoubtedly, the emotional stress caused by the knotty and complicated process impacts the life of the employee in the workplace. What can an HR professional do to handle the employee with care, while also limiting the repercussive impacts that this can have on the wider workplace and business productivity?
How are businesses affected?
Statistics from 2016 released by the show that 5.3 million businesses in the UK are micro-businesses – employing 0-9 people. This accounts for 96% of all business, 32% of employment, and 19% of turnover. If an employee was to need additional time away from work or experience a decrease in productivity. It will have a tangible effect on a micro-business.
In fact, due to the emotional and timely implications of the separation process, which often features demanding and relentless decision-making about finance, property and parenting, the effects of divorce has been shown to cost the British economy and business up to £46 billion every year according to the .
Divorce and productivity
The relationship between business productivity and the wellbeing of employees is well reported. A study conducted by Xerox HR services found that cited increasing productivity as the top objective for their workplace wellbeing schemes.
With employers treating wellbeing of their workforce with increasing importance, divorce should take focus in the wellbeing structure as it is no longer an uncommon occurrence, with rates in the UK of around 42% of all marriages ending in divorce.
How can a business mitigate the effects?
At the best of times a divorce can be problematic, but if the divorce proceedings involve child access arrangements or selling a joint house, the stress can be amplified greatly. Research indicates that divorce is dealt with similarly to grief as individuals experience a range of different emotions which can affect us all differently in the workplace and at home. It is knowing how individuals deal with this stress that will set your organisation and HR department apart.
Jo Edwards of the family law organisation Resolution, states “it can be easy to forget that sometimes things going on outside of work have a profound effect on what happens within it. With workers across Britain seeing a notable impact on productivity, divorce is an issue that bosses need to take seriously and look out for the warning signs.”
Despite the evidence for a supportive internal business policy structure for divorce, a newly published Com Res survey showed that only a meagre 10% of workers felt their employers offered support for those going through divorce.
What businesses can consider for structure:
- Have a plan – Don’t wait until a divorce occurs in a workplace. Structure what the company can afford to offer an employee in the circumstances to mitigate the impact that it will have on the business
- Offer adequate support to the employee – A divorce will likely mean a busy and stressful time for the employee, including lawyer meetings or mediation. Consider offering flexible working hours to allow time to attend proceedings and avoid increased stress.
- Discuss temporary part time. This solution has the potential to give the employee time that they need to navigate a divorce. While also mentoring a temporary part-time worker to fill the rest of the hours.
It is fundamental that all employers are sensitive and receptive to the troubles faced by their employees. Offering time to listen and practical information on the best ways to proceed. In order to give that extra support, employers should make themselves familiar with organisations mentioned. Especially considering the detrimental effects that divorce often has on employees’ and their colleagues’ productivity.
Elizabeth Walker is the HR manager of a Hertfordshire based digital marketing company, Distinctly. With 10 years of experience in HR for various companies, she has written about best practice in the profession for various magazines and publications.