Stressed Woman in an office
Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

How to Support An Employee Going Through a Divorce

When your organization has an employee going through a divorce, it can impact not only your employee’s work but also co-workers’. You may not know for sure but suspect your employee is suffering marital problems by observing her or his behavior. Some of the signs that indicate you may have an employee going through a divorce include:

  • Frequent absences – A traditional, contentious divorce requires frequent meetings with attorneys and court appearances. “The more contentious the divorce, the more time off work required,” says Carol Sullivan of Divorce Negotiator, U.K.
  • Increased margin of error – This can be especially dangerous, especially if your employee going through a divorce operates heavy machinery or equipment. Judgment mistakes can cause accidents and injuries.
  • Late arrivals – Watch for signs of partying, excessive drug/alcohol use when an employee frequently comes in late, looking haggard.
  • Less productivity – An employee going through a divorce may lack focus and use work-time to deal with issues. Your employee may also share every detail with co-workers (distracting them), and leave early sometimes because of childcare issues.
  • More sick days – They experience depression, and that can lead to very real symptoms of physical illness.

Ways to Help an Employee Going Through a Divorce

It’s important you hear news of a divorce from the employee, not from the office rumor mill. Then, be sure to schedule a face-to-face to discuss the situation and offer a sympathetic ear. Remember, an employee going through a divorce needs to express personal emotions, not hear about your divorce or platitudes. (“There’s a reason for everything.” “Look on the bright side.”) Some ways to show your support are:

  • Be flexible – If an employee going through a divorce needs to adjust work hours to accommodate childcare responsibilities, offer solutions.
  • Develop an ongoing conversation – Your employee will feel valued and respected if you regularly initiate discussion. Have an open-door policy.
  • Make a timeline – Contentious divorces can drag on forever, where collaborative divorce is faster and usually much less painful. Discuss a support timeline in which you and your organization will expect your employee to return to “normal” hours and responsibilities.
  • Offer real-time support – Divorce coaching, a financial advisor, and other professional help can be offered if your company has those resources. Give the employee contact information for your organization’s go-to person for financial data (pension plans, taxes) needed for the divorce. You can also share information about collaborative divorce, the non-confrontational, non-contentious, and more family-friendly divorce process.

Ways to Prepare Your Company

  • Provide confidentiality information – Remind your employee that personal information (emails, social media posts) are not “private” when using company equipment, including telephones. Discuss the levels of information co-workers and managers should or should not have regarding your employee’s divorce.
  • Train managers and supervisors – Just as sensitivity to diversity is learned, management can learn coping skills to help an employee going through a divorce. Provide them a learning experience.
  • Create a divorce policy – If your company doesn’t have one, design a divorce policy that specifically addresses absences due to counseling, court appearances, and attorney appointments. Your policy should name the person employees can approach with divorce-related work issues.
  • Educate co-workers – Helpful comments, “You’re better off without her,” or “There’s always another guy out there,” are offensive, not helpful. You may need to educate your team about language. Let them know you are available to hear their frustrations with an employee going through a divorce. They may feel as if they now have more work as a result.

Collaborative Divorce: Better for Business

Filing for divorce in Arizona can have fewer stressors with the collaborative divorce process. When your divorcing employees don’t have to

  • deal with accusations and arguments
  • make nerve-wracking court appearances

. . . you’ll see a shorter timeframe for workplace disruption. Suggest Ogborne Law to an employee going through a divorce for one or all of our divorce support professional services:

Call 602.343.1435 or contact Ogborne Law, PLC to learn more.