One of the biggest squeezes on workplace productivity is when one of your team members suffers a relationship breakdown. Splitting up can have a significant impact on bothpresence at work and absence from work which can lead to a lack of efficiency and productivity.
The impact of a break up on business
No matter who was the instigator of the separation or divorce, you can expect a change in mood, interest and enthusiasm at work. This period of shock, sadness and change leads to an undoubted loss in productivity. Energy becomes centered on sorting out the fall of their relationship, whether that’s making new living arrangements, filing papers at work, sorting out finances and child arrangements. These tasks take time that can often leak into working hours.
Business consequences of a relationship breakdown
According to Make a Difference, the Chamber of Commerce predicts an annual cost of £48 billion to UK taxpayers due to the consequences of family breakdowns. One of the reasons for the impact is the absenteeism that results. If a separation or divorce case goes to court, then time will be needed to have discussions with solicitors, communicate with the other party’s legal team and attend court. Aside from needing time off for formal matters, the stress of legalities can lead to significant distress requiring employees taking more time off work.
Where an employee may ‘soldier on’ and try to keep on working while going through a separation, their level of concentration may still be impacted which can result in missed opportunities, costly mistakes, poor quality work, bad decision making and ultimately, low productivity.
What you can do to support colleagues going through a breakup
While today, employers are much more able and willing to offer mental health support, there can often be a gap in extending this to those who are experiencing a separation.
To help those going through a divorce, you can do the following:
- Be understanding. Speak honestly and openly to your colleague and ask them to share how they are feeling. By listening to their specific needs, you will make your employee feel valued and respected and this in turn, can help them to work with you on ensuring their role is taken care of in their absence.
- Reduce workload stress. If your colleague is struggling to keep up with their workload, look at realistic ways in which you can help them. For instance, temporarily asking other team members to cover.
- Offer professional advice and support services they can contact to talk through what they have been going through. Talking therapies are often a useful way of allowing those going through a divorce or breakup, to express their feelings in a safe environment. Alleviating this emotional load can help them become more focused and on track during work.
- Provide flexibility in working hours. Working flexibly in any circumstance can help reduce absenteeism and the same is true when someone is going through a difficult separation. There could be all kinds of new circumstances they have to deal with; from new child care arrangements and finding a new place to live. With a more flexible working pattern, your team member will be able to work in a way that suits them, encouraging them
Going through a break up or a divorce is not just a case of needing time off work for meetings, court hearings and other practicalities, it’s also a time of emotional ups and downs and marks a pivotal period in someone’s life. They will need time to adjust and reassess their lives too. By offering meaningful and valuable support at work, you will be helping to reduce the potential consequences on workplace productivity and building trust and loyalty at the same time.