Divorce-Related Stress: How it Affects People – and the Workplace

Divorce-related stress can occur for multiple reasons, according to Psychology Today, including “making the decision to keep the house or move; the loss of the familiar life and lifestyle; paying high attorney bills; [and] having less money to live on.”

Additional reasons for stress include “wondering if the settlement will be fair; who will get what assets (and debts); wondering if you’ll be able to find a job after being a stay-at-home-parent for the past ten years; not knowing how to make ends meet on less money; wondering how the kids will fare; fearing the familial, social and emotional ramifications, and so on.”

Because approximately 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce, it’s likely that some of your employees will need to deal with this transition at some point. Perhaps some of them are, right now.

Huffington Post lists seven ways in which divorce affects people negatively, many of which can lead to workplace challenges. The first is chronic stress, which occurs because divorce is an ongoing process, not an event quickly dealt with in most cases. People undergoing a divorce often struggle to sleep, which only increases their challenges. “Stress,” one expert is quoted as saying, “prevents sleep. Sleep deprivation increases stress and its consequences.”

Immune systems are likely to be weakened, so these employees may be catching more colds and cases of the flu, leading to absenteeism and lack of workplace productivity. It’s not unusual for an employee to also be dealing with anxiety and depression during this process.

Prevention quotes a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family indicating a higher risk of cardiovascular disease for both men and woman after a divorce. Women, however, are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease post-divorce, with one expert speculating that this is, in part, because women “often take bigger hits in terms of finances.”

How This Affects the Workplace

DivorceSupport.About.com cites the average workplace cost of divorcing employees as $83,171 annually because of absenteeism, shortened work hours and more. This is because employees have court hearings to attend, and must deal with health challenges, child custody issues and other concerns. Moreover, it can take up to five years for employee productivity to truly rebound, post-divorce.

How to Help Employees Manage Divorce Stress

Many key divorce stressors discussed by Psychology Today focus on financial challenges. Your company can help reduce this stress by offering our Family Defender plan™ as a voluntary benefit. Through this plan, your employees have access to experienced attorneys to deal with the process of divorce and, if relevant, with child custody; child and/or spousal support; property division; and more.

Depending on plan specifics, your employees can benefit from free consultations, document preparation and filing, settlement agreement drafts, hearing representation and more. Learn more about the U.S. Legal Services Family Defender™ and contact us with questions or to get started: