If you think that the cost of divorce is strictly personal, you’ll be surprised to learn that relationship-related stress — especially divorce — can cause companies $300 billion a year. The main reason is a decrease in employee productivity. It is estimated that at least six months prior to announcing a divorce and at least one year after a divorce, an employee’s productivity drops by 40%. It will gradually increase each year after, but it’s not until six years after a divorce that an employee’s productivity is back to par. This is a loss for employers.
There is a way to mitigate these losses by educating employees about non-adversarial divorce processes, such as Collaborative Divorce, a voluntary, out of court settlement process that is less stressful than an adversarial divorce.
The Ripple Effect- One Divorce Affects Everyone
When just one employee grapples with divorce, everyone around that person in the office or on the team is affected by having to take up the slack if their colleague is distracted and having a hard time staying focused on the job, which is a common side-effect of divorce. The productivity of the divorcing employee’s co-workers is said to drop by 4%, while that of their supervisor drops by 2.5%.
According to financial analyst Rosemary Frank, over the course of several years, the divorce of a single employee making $60,000 a year costs $85,934 in lost productivity. This includes absenteeism, presenteeism (being on the clock but otherwise checked out), and other factors.
How HR Can Help
Companies often have resources to address a variety of employee related personal issues that impact productivity, such as having a baby, a death in the family, care for a sick child or parent, or addressing a long-term illness. An estimated 10% of the workforce goes through a divorce every year, yet most companies don’t have plans to assist these employees and likely don’t know where to start.
The modern HR professional balances employee well-being, workplace culture, and profitability. When an employee’s divorce is going to cost the company money and impact morale, having a systematic approach to discuss divorce in the workplace will save money.
Keep the lines of communication open so that when an employee is contemplating or in the middle of a divorce, HR knows about it. Talk with an employee if you’ve noticed a drop in productivity. Ask what the company can do to help them get back on track. Before you suggest a course of action, take the time to listen. They may already have something in mind, such as taking time off to deal with the issue, and perhaps the company can make their solution a reality.
Keeping up with the modern trends in non-adversarial divorce options, such as mediation and Collaborative Divorce, will assure the employee that the company understands that this is a major life transition and HR can become a source of reliable information.
In a traditional, adversarial court-based divorce process, employees may need to reschedule business meetings or presentations around court hearings and attorney consultations that take place during normal business hours. If possible, your company should offer flexible work schedules to accommodate these necessary interruptions. Knowing about Collaborative Divorce might allow the employee more control over their schedule, enabling them to plan divorce meetings around work duties and important business deadlines. This helps the employee avoid the court and the court schedule, over which the individual has no control.
Practical Help for Employees in Need
An employee’s marital status affects a wide range of issues: health insurance, retirement and pension plans, life and disability insurance. If their health insurance has been covered by their spouse’s plan, they may need to apply for health insurance through your company. Divorce is a qualifying life event that allows an employee to apply outside of the usual enrollment period. On the other hand, if the employee’s spouse is on the company plan, informing them about continuing coverage under COBRA, and the cost, will be welcome information.
Does your company have a leave policy? Allowing a team member to use their paid personal leave is a way to show support through this difficult time. Some companies also allow employees to take unpaid leave, if necessary.
Employees are more productive when they are not stressed about their divorce process. If you have an employee assistance plan that includes psychological counseling, be sure the employee knows about it. A survey of workers who recently went through divorce or separation reported that 42% felt their employers could have provided more mental health support. Consider adding a Collaborative Divorce consultation or representation as part of your employee assistance plan. This can assuage the anxiety an employee is bound to feel when going through a more traditional divorce.
The Collaborative Divorce Advantage
A contentious fight over how to split up assets or decide on custody of a child – which is common with most traditional divorces – is stressful and expensive for everyone. That’s why some companies are informing employees about alternatives like Collaborative Divorce.
Collaborative Divorce engages the help of specially trained attorneys, financial experts, and mental health professionals as an interdisciplinary team that allows both parties to safely work through their marital issues and resolve their divorce in a civil, dignified manner. Collaborate Divorce is an out-of-court process designed to result in an uncontested divorce which is filed with the court. No one threatens to go to court, and no one goes to court to fight. The only time that court is involved, is at the end of the process, when the final settlement documents are filed by the attorneys. The actual divorce order comes in the mail!
Collaborative Divorce can help an employee get through the process more quickly and with a minimum of stress. It’s a win-win for everyone; the divorcing employee can get on with their life sooner, and by helping an employee avoid the contentiousness of family court litigation, the company supports its team members through difficult times while maintaining productivity.short url: