Can (should) your company help you live happier ever after?
Life Innovations, a Minneapolis-based relationship wellness firm released its annual report on the state of marriage and its effects upon business, “Marriage and Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business”. Once again, all is not well in the relationship between business and marriage; when marriages end, or just go sour, bad stuff happens to one and all:
- Relationship-related stress costs employers about $300 billion annually. Divorce is the culmination of such stress. Other studies have shown that divorce impacts an employee’s productivity and effectiveness in the workplace for three to five years, or longer.
Many people know that absenteeism hurts a company. Employees not showing up for work — in the physical sense — creates trouble for a business. However, “presenteeism” – that is, showing up for work physically, but not being present mentally and emotionally – is becoming an even greater problem for businesses. Presenteeism can persist for days, weeks and beyond, impacting productivity and profits.
The Harvard Business Review estimates that presenteeism costs American Business $150 billion annually in direct and indirect costs. Presenteeism occurs when a conflict at home is unresolved, resulting in festering anxiety that intrudes on an employee’s “mental screen” throughout the day. This emotional flooding interferes with the brain’s working memory and executive function. The employee is distracted and preoccupied and loses ability to focus and concentrate fully on the task at hand. This lost productivity continues until the situation that plagues him or her is resolved.
The cost of divorce to employers
Employee divorce already drains a company’s profits. Loss of productivity by divorcing employees may actually be a business’ greatest operating expense. On the stress-meter of life, divorce is second in severity only to the loss of a child. Divorce is debilitating. More than 70 percent of any company’s employees may be working at reduced productivity levels, due to their own divorce or even a co-worker’s.
Considering the effort and expense some companies might offer to increase their bottom line even just 1 percent, it begs the question: “How much profit is a company losing due to the cost of divorce?” Surely, profits would increase if employers simply got most employees working to near their productive capacity at least most of the time.
Yet, about one in 10 employees will divorce in 2014, 2015, or any given year, when their productivity is most impacted. However, consider this riveting question:
- Does all the pain, suffering and loss actually occur in the year after the divorce?
No way! What happens in the year prior to a divorce, with all the accompanying anxieties, is a somewhat hidden — but definitely hurtful cost to the business. And the pain and suffering to the business can easily take up to five years after their employee’s divorce. Divorce is a seven-year event, with 70 percent of a business’ workforce at one stage or another at any given time.
In plain fact, it’s estimated that employee productivity is reduced by a whopping 40 percent, and disrupted co-workers down 4 percent, during the six months prior and the year of divorce; even their supervisor’s productivity decreases 2.5 percent to deal with the situation.
Rather conservative estimates considering the trauma of divorce, realities of “presenteeism” actual absences and the fact that many divorces do not conclude within one year.
Therefore, the divorce of a $60,000 per year employee is estimated to cost a business $85,934 in lost productivity, based on simple salary calculations. This does not include the costs of mistakes (e.g., waste, contract errors that must be honored, etc.) or potential profits on lost productivity.
Controlling the costs of divorce is dependent upon any business owner’s ability to help their employees reduce the stressors, mostly financial, that cause reduced productivity. Even though divorce is largely about money: theirs and their employer’s. Managing financial expectations is critical to the divorce process as well as the outcome and subsequent transitions.
In addition to productivity issues for divorcing employees, and other workers around them, higher health-related costs due to stress and depression are also borne by the employer. Assisting employees in some way to mitigate the financial distress caused by divorce is becoming a high-priority item.
What can companies do for relationship-trouble employees?
When companies invest in the physical and relational wellness of their workers, returns on investment can range between $1.50 and $6.85 for every dollar spent on these types of programs.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) typically address the symptoms of divorce with a one-size-fits-all, mental health service. However, since money and family finances have long been recognized as the number one cause of relationship unhappiness (and divorce), it follows that financial issues would be the most contentious during divorce. Assistance focused on the financial issues of divorce, with intentions to decrease the stress, duration and uncertainties of divorce, are a meaningful addition to traditional EAP services.
It’s long been thought that there’s nothing businesses can do to prevent divorce. After all, aside from the occasional workaholic who throws himself (or, herself) into their work in order to avoid the pain and suffering at home, it’s really not a business’ responsibility to interfere with what their employees do on their own time. Yet, is that really true? Why do so many Silicon Valley-type tech companies offer such luxurious amenities such as: concierge services, massages, free meals, stress-busting sessions, and even counseling sessions? They do it to create and maintain loyalty and the best possible environment for their employees to serve the needs of their employer.
Many companies offer a plethora of other benefits to their employees, such as: discounts to Disneyland, 2-for-1 dining coupons, casual dress days, birthday cake celebrations, and other amenities which are meant to foster a happier workplace for employees, as well as to reduce stress for their employees all the way home. But, how much good will that really do for a couple who’s life has slowly degenerated into ‘death by a 1,000 cuts’? What could a company do to help their employees without invading their privacy?
What can, should or will American, Canadian or other nations’ businesses choose to do to increase their profits? It’s really quite simple: Create their own “Affordable Employee Care” program (aka, “O’EmployerCare”). (Just make sure that they don’t mention Obama’s name).
It used to be just: “Happy wife. Happy life.” Why not: “Happy employees. Happy shareholders. Happy everyone!”
- If you’re an employer, let your employees know about Twoology. And, if you’re really motivated to increase your profits, contact Twoology’s Co-Chief Happiness Partner, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information……