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Being there for your employees during divorce

While an employee’s divorce or separation is a personal, private matter, it could have a detrimental effect on their employer’s business. It’s estimated that divorce costs the British economy up to £46 billion every year, with employees’ wellbeing and business productivity closely correlated. So, it makes good commercial sense for employers to support their staff through the upheaval of a relationship breakdown and help them stay focused and productive.

Does your business offer adequate support for staff going through a break-up? What should you be doing to help them?

Ruth Bradley and Myra Eadie, fully qualified counsellors and members of Consensus Collaboration Scotland, have a wealth of experience of helping people through divorce and separation. Here they outline their advice on what you should do to support your employees when they’re going through this difficult time.

1. Develop an HR policy for divorce and separation (it can be as stressful as bereavement, for which you probably have a policy already), and ensure that all staff know what the policy is.

2. Assist staff in meeting the costs of specialist counselling support by directing them to the Consensus Collaboration Scotland website (www.consensus-scotland.com) where they will find details of highly qualified and experienced collaboratively trained practitioners who can help them and their families during the process of separation and divorce.

3. Look out for any warning signs, such as more sick leave than usual, last minute days off, leaving in the middle of the day for unexplained meetings, or complaining about feeling tired.

4. Show compassion by demonstrating in actions, not just words, that you understand their situation and want to be supportive.

5. Provide practical support, e.g. flexible working, breaks when needed, and time off to attend meetings with lawyers, financial advisers and counsellors.

6. Provide information and guidance about how their divorce affects their employee benefits, such as health plans and life insurance (and also how their spouse may be affected if they will no longer be covered).

7. Direct them towards helpful, reputable information sources (e.g. www.consensus-scotland.com).

8. Try to avoid clichéd platitudes that, no matter how well-intentioned, may make them feel worse, such as “there’s plenty more fish in the sea”, “at least you’re children are older and have already left home”, or “better now than in 20 years’ time”.

9. Help them to see that there is an alternative to court proceedings. Divorce is a stressful process to go through, but there is a better way to deal with it. Consensus members across Scotland help people to manage their separation in a way that minimises conflict and helps them avoid court if they can.

10. Work with your employee, so that they keep you up-to-date, and you are able to support them appropriately at all times.

Relationships at home can be emulated in the workplace and by supporting employees with difficulties in their personal relationships, you will have a happier workforce and less sick leave.

If you would like further information or assistance as an employer with any of the above, please contact a Consensus Collaboration Scotland professional.