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Divorced employees need more HR support

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Over half (57%) of employees going through divorce feel inadequately supported at work and it is having an impact on retention.

Due to the lack of support, one in eight employees said they have left their employer within a year of their divorce. 

The new study by Rayden Solicitors asked employees who have been through a divorce or relationship separation how they work and what more could be done to help others going through similar circumstances.

Troublingly, four in five (79%) respondents stated that it had an impact on their ability to work. 

The majority of those impacted (60%) said their mental health suffered during their relationship breakdown and 42% said their company could have done more to help with their wellbeing.

Steve Cadigan, founder and CEO of Cadigan Talent Ventures and former chief of HR at LinkedIn, said it is very uncommon for HR teams to have a policy on managing employees through a divorce.

He told HR magazine: “Divorce is a fairly personal event that many employees may not feel comfortable disclosing to anyone outside of their direct manager, and even then, perhaps not.”

Cadigan said while HR can provide employees with helpful resources, approaching employees’ personal challenges has to be a team effort between HR and the leadership.

“A company’s leadership team has to prioritise building an empathetic workplace, and then work with HR to enact policies that foster community and care in the workplace.

“This could be incentives, events or simply stressing the importance of communication and honesty,” he said.

Kirsten Keen, consultant at Cluer HR, said the stress, hurt and heartbreak that come with a relationship breakdown can cause a lack of concentration, low mood and even depression.

Speaking to HR magazine she said: “All this is inevitably going to impact on a person’s ability to perform well in their role.

“If that person is a valued, respected member of the business, it surely goes without saying that it’s therefore in the business’s interest to support that person through their difficult time.”

A third (33%) of respondents said more leeway on flexible working to attend separation proceedings and meetings would be the most helpful thing HR could have offered to help them.

An additional 32% said an offer of compassionate leave would have better supported them.

Keen suggested offering counselling services to staff for personal issues, such as relationship breakdowns, would also be beneficial.

She said: “Nurturing a culture whereby people talk about their home life and are open about problems can be extremely supportive.

“Helping employees to feel less stressed and get their life sorted, will benefit employers in the long run.”

The Divorce in the Workplace report is based on the response of employees from 133 companies in the UK.