Exploring the Intersection of Family Disputes and Workplace Productivity: Understanding the Financial Implications of Divorce

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Divorce

All too often, a family dispute between divorcing parties can affect a person’s morale and motivation levels at work. The impact this has on earning potential is evidenced by some interesting statistics on the effect of divorce on a worker’s ability to support themselves and their dependents financially. We take a closer look at the figures, and the factors that could be at play.

What does the research tell us? 

A survey by Positive Parent’s Alliance found that divorce was having a considerable effect on the morale of employees, impacting on their well-being and productivity. Almost three quarters of employees felt less efficient and 90% said their performance was negatively impacted. Around 10% of respondents going through a divorce said that they’d had to give up work altogether. 

Elsewhere, the results of a US Survey reported in the National Post revealed that people who had gone through a divorce in the preceding year had seen their income reduce by an average of 12%, but what are the main issues feeding this phenomenon? 

  • Mental well-being

This is a key factor when it comes to the impact of divorce on earning levels. In responding to the PPA survey, 95% reported a decline in their mental health following the onset of divorce proceedings. These include, but are not limited to, stress, depression, anxiety and trauma. To this end, 39% of divorcing employees had to take sick leave or unpaid leave at some point during their divorce.  

  • Changes at work 

Divorce can necessitate a change in work patterns or positions, in order to reflect possible new responsibilities, such as child access or custody arrangements. This could mean fewer hours or even a lower paid job. The loss of a regular work routine can also be a trigger for mental health struggles, as well as for earning potential. 

Parental responsibilities 

Many people find themselves in the position of having to alter their work schedule to accommodate new childcare arrangements, particularly where one parent was predominantly responsible for this role previously. The impact of a divorce on children can also add to the concerns of parents, and needing more time off is a likelihood in most scenarios, especially if a break up is less than amicable.

What can employers do to support employees going through a divorce? 

PPA have devised a list of actions that employers can embed into their HR processes to mitigate the negative impact of divorce in the workplace. Top of the list is providing better support – being empathetic and patient, and acknowledging the struggles being experienced. They recommend formally recognising separation and divorce as a serious ‘life event’, so that employees know the issue is recognised and that support is available. 

Other recommendations to support employees after a divorce:

  • Offer flexible working options, to support changing childcare arrangements 
  • Provide access to therapeutic services 
  • Provide access to guidance and support services, including signposting to professional legal advice to oversee the negotiation of financial settlement, child support and contact etc 
  • Approve extended leave – especially important when dealing with potential court dates, moving home and schools etc 
  • Reallocate some responsibilities to other employees to help take the pressure off  
  • Provide employees with financial support/benefits or signpost them to where they can get further help and assist them to complete applications.  

Conclusion 

Every divorce differs, and there are no hard and fast rules, but implementing some of the above suggestions into the work environment would go a long way to stemming both the loss of earnings and the loss of productivity of employees during a divorce. 

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