Stressful life events such as a divorce not only drive a wedge between members of a family, but they also cause parents and children alike to feel the full brunt of the separation. This can affect their physical, psychological, social and financial well-being.
Working parents, particularly women, face greater complexity in how they manage life after a divorce. Research shows that women are more prone to having poorer physical and emotional health overall and that they endure financial setbacks more frequently and more severely than men do. For one, the main sources and levels of household income change drastically for divorcing women across six OECD countries.
“The average economic effects of divorce, particularly for women, are heavily influenced by the social security, labour market, family model and family law systems of each country,” noted the global study from the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
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While the issue of divorce is more often relegated to the private enclave of the home, the disruption caused by the separation can be detrimental to the well-being and productivity of people when they are at work.
How then can employers support staff members who are dealing with the stress and anxiety of a divorce?
By revisiting and recalibrating their employee benefits plan, according to Sheri Atwood, founder and CEO of SupportPay, a platform that helps manage the nitty-gritty of divorce such as child support payments and custody, which are two of the biggest factors affecting workers.
“Employers can support employees going through stressful life events by addressing their specific needs and providing benefits for every significant stage of life,” Atwood told People Matters.
Atwood’s call to action for business and HR leaders is for them to widen the scope of family-friendly benefits to alleviate the stressors that stem from this life event. This allows them to “be at the forefront of innovative employee benefits while reducing employee stress, improving focus, and increasing productivity,” Atwood said.
The harsh reality for most workplaces, however, is the refusal to acknowledge the impact that a divorce can have on a person’s life at work.
Atwood said: “While we’ve seen forward-thinking companies already implement supportive family benefits, such as expanding paid family leave, paid adoption leave, and fertility treatment coverage, to name a few, companies are leaving behind employees who are struggling before, during, and after divorce or separation.”