When a senior leader goes through a divorce, it can have a significant impact on the business, so it is important to provide as much support to them as possible. If they do not get support, their performance at work is likely to be affected and it can also have a negative impact on those working around them and the people on their team.
To support a senior leader going through a divorce, the following actions should be considered:
Many people want the distraction of working while they go through a divorce but this is not always the best option, as they will not have time to process their feelings such as anger, which could show while they are at work and they direct anger at other people. Taking a break from work, maybe to take a holiday or to spend time moving house or dealing with divorce proceedings will help the senior leader to cope better without the additional stress of work.
Another way to support a leader going through a divorce is to try and reduce their workload by delegating responsibilities to other people for a while. Instead of traveling for meetings, online meetings should be encouraged to give them more time away from work.
Working from home might be another way to balance out doing the tasks involved in moving home or arranging divorce proceedings. If they are working in the office, they might not want other people to hear them talking to solicitors about the divorce and discussing the legal terms and definitions, so working from home for a while will help with this.
An Employee Assistant Programme provides a range of valuable support services, including counseling for employees. Going through a divorce is usually one of the most stressful times in a person’s life and talking to a professional should help them to process their feelings and make plans for the future. There may be a specialist divorce counselor that can provide advice to help them cope with the stress of divorce and people often feel more comfortable talking to a stranger than their own friends about their feelings.
HR should be well prepared for senior leaders going through divorces by providing all of the details they will need such as how divorce will impact family medical insurance and other benefits that their wife or husband was entitled to. Work pensions will also be a topic that they will require information about, even if it is just providing the correct contact details for the pension provider.
Creating a divorce support package with all of the necessary HR information in will help to provide a consistent level of support to all senior leaders who go through divorce proceedings.
It may also be a good idea to include additional information in the pack such as how to deal with child custody arrangements and other legal aspects of the divorce proceedings so they can read up about it before speaking to their solicitor.
Without support from work, while going through a divorce, a senior leader could end up going off with stress or their negative mood in work could have a knock-on effect on the rest of the team, resulting in a disengaged team. Even though support should be consistent to all senior leaders, it is also important to remember that all people will handle divorce differently.
Some leaders will have a great support network outside of work that will help them to cope with the divorce, while others may not have a big support group as they work long hours and have a limited social life.
In some cases, the senior leader’s work-life may be one of the key reasons behind the divorce, in which case there may be some resentment towards other people in work due to this. The time that it takes the senior leader to deal with the grief of divorce could be any length of time, from months to years, so the support should continue as long as is necessary.