Divorce or a breakdown of a cohabitation relationship is an extremely emotional process. While divorce is a personal matter the emotional impact can spill over into the workplace suddenly making it a public affair. There are so many unknowns about divorce that people are often confused, filled with fear and unsure of how to navigate the process.
In an effort to better heal and deal with the divorce process privately, many individuals seek individual counseling. However, not all therapists are equipped to help their patients understand the specifics of divorce to alleviate many of their concerns i.e. the legal process, financial impact or child custody and visitation issues. As a result, an individual’s world is temporarily turned upside down, triggering unsettling and distressful emotions. The effects of emotional distress in the workplace can be devastating.
On a classic rating scale of stressful life events, divorce consistently ranks second, second only to the death of a spouse or child. The process of getting divorced is an emotional roller coaster which can impact people’s ability to be mindful on the job.
Although divorce is primarily a personal heartbreak, the effects spill into the workplace; at the extreme costing one to lose their job not to mention a good portion of their wealth, and it can even affect the organization’s reputation. People often feel overburdened and lack confidence; it is not surprising how many buckle under the pressure because they don’t know how to handle work and divorce at the same time.
The Impact of Divorce in the Workplace
It is well documented that divorce reduces worker productivity. If one were to do a cost-benefit analysis of the effects of divorce in the workplace, one would find that the financial costs to the organization can be enormous. Research indicates that:
- The average cost of divorcing employees to an organization is $83, 171 per year.
- Child custody issues can create a significant cost for employers which include administration of health care insurance, absenteeism, time off for court dates and shortened work hours for the divorcing employee.
- It can take up to 5 years for employee productivity to rebound after divorce.
- Workers in domestic disputes become unavailable for travel or extended hours.
In addition, if key executives are faced with marital separation and/or divorce this situation can have a much more dramatic impact on the organization such as taking important people away from the workplace and can have a very disruptive effect on the organization’s business. When employers are able to help employees through this difficult, potentially distracting, and all too common situation, it can pay valuable dividends for both.
When people are distracted, they make more mistakes and work more slowly. If they’re feeling depressed, their creativity will be down. If they’re feeling angry, they may project some of that anger onto co-workers or even customers.
To help overcome these issues, there needs to be a greater understanding of this new phase of life, the new family structure, the superior parenting skills required, and the shared parental responsibility necessary. By educating employees about the impact of divorce and how to effectively manage the divorce process, it will lead them to a greater understanding of what needs to be done.
This will successfully help employees divorce with focus, hope, and confidence, thereby enabling them to contribute more effectively to their job; and for their employer, to see a return on their investment, as employee productivity is not diminished as significantly.