Divorce Your Spouse, Not Your Employer: Minimizing the Effects of Divorce in the Workplace

When you're in the midst of a divorce, it can feel like the pressure is coming at you from every angle. Your boss may be breathing down your neck. Your soon-to-be-ex may be sending you nasty notes. You're not taking the time to care for yourself as you should, and if children are involved, you're wondering how all of this is affecting them. Even if your divorce is more or less amicable, the stress of separating from one life and the prospect of starting a new one is often quite daunting and ends up spilling over into your work life.

Although divorce is a traumatic life event, there are ways to minimize its effects in the workplace. By understanding some ways in which divorce affects workplace performance and the steps you can take to reduce these impacts, you will not only have a more favorable work environment, but you will improve your overall well-being.

How a Divorce Can Affect Your Performance at Work

A divorce is not an event that just occurs in a courtroom or on paper. As mentioned above, the pressure that arises during your divorce often bleeds into other areas of your life, such as your job. As you try to balance all the aspects of your life while you are getting a divorce, you become distracted and often overwhelmed. This can have negative consequences on your work performance.

  • Behaving emotionally – It is normal to be emotional during this time in your life. Passions are running high, and rational thought processes may be difficult.
  • Poor decision-making – When you are going through a distressing experience such as divorce, it can cloud your judgment causing you to make hasty or ill-conceived decisions.
  • Missing work – In your quest to juggle your home life, work, and your divorce, frequent absenteeism may result.
  • Frequent lateness – Whether it's due to lack of sleep because of continually thinking about your current situation, being tardy for work may become commonplace.

Even though you may be stressed, having an emotional outburst at work, making bad decisions that cost the company money, or being away from the office for extended periods are infractions that can get you demoted, denied a promotion, or even fired. Keep in mind, however, that getting a divorce is not a valid reason for your employer to terminate you.

Tips for Managing Divorce-Related Stress at Work

So, what can you do to minimize the effects of your divorce on your performance at work? Because divorce is a common occurrence, there are most likely other people you work with that have gone through it too, maybe even your boss. Below are some tips to help you maintain your professionalism in the workplace as you go through this time.

  • Inform your supervisor about your divorce – Your supervisor will probably understand your situation – to a point – so don't take advantage. Also, everyone at your office doesn't need to know, so if you do tell others, keep the list short.
  • Keep your divorce and work life separate – It may be challenging if your partner is calling you at work. If that is the case, don't get into loud arguments over the phone and avoid reading divorce-related emails on company time. And if you can avoid it, try not to call your attorney while you're working.
  • Invest in self-care – Being able to sort out your emotions during this time is vital. Investigate possible resources that your employer has as support, such as an Employee Assistance Program. Or seek out the services of an outside therapist.
  • Don't quit your job – Remember those poor decisions I mentioned earlier? This would be one of those. Though it may seem like the right choice at the moment, it will be one that you will regret on many levels. Going through a divorce and not having any income is not something that you want.
  • Learn stress-relieving techniques – You don't want to fly off the handle while you're on the job. Find ways to manage your stress while at work – whether it's taking a walk, counting to ten, or deep breathing, find something that works for you.
  • Try not to dwell on your present circumstances – It may not seem like it, but it will get better. Just don't do anything crazy while you're at work. Remember, your boss can't fire you for getting a divorce.

You can't control all the outcomes of your divorce, but you have the power to diminish the impact your divorce has on your workplace performance. If you are struggling with divorce or have questions about your case, contact the Law Office of Jana K. Jones, PLLC, to schedule an appointment.