Creating a positive work environment is an ongoing challenge. As a manager/business owner, you will encounter unexpected people-related challenges – and may not always have the right answer straight away.

A common example of this is when one of your team is experiencing relationship troubles – or, more specifically, a divorce or ending a partnership. How confident you feel in dealing with the situation appropriately may vary based on whether you have experienced this yourself, and how much you know about their situation.

There are a few dos and don’ts when one of your employees is going through a divorce or separating from a partner. In this blog we have outlined what these are – and how to support employees going through a relationship breakdown.

Don’t pry – respect their privacy!
If one of your employees has told you that they are going through a divorce or separation, then you need to take this seriously. They have placed trust in you to keep this information private – and you need to honour that trust.

Furthermore, if you have learned about a staff member’s relationship breakdown ‘through the grapevine’ (they have not told you directly) then you should not pry. They have chosen not to tell you for a reason, and it is best to let them come to you, not the other way around.

If your employee tells you about their situation, you can respect their privacy by:

  • Keeping the information to yourself
  • Reassuring them that this will stay confidential
  • Only speaking to them about it in private settings

Keep in mind that many divorces take years to be finalised and properly dealt with. Therefore, once these clear confidentiality boundaries have been established, be prepared to stick by them for years to come. It is up to your employee when (if at all) to tell their colleagues – it is not up to you.

Treat your employee as an individual
It is important to make sure your staff are well looked-after and have access to sufficient support when going through a divorce or the breakdown of a relationship. However, you must remember that every employee is an individual – and you may have to be flexible to changes in their circumstances.

For example, as a result of the break-up, your employee may have solicitors’ appointments over the following weeks/months – and it is important that these are given top priority. You should rearrange meetings and workload accordingly, without giving away to colleagues why this may be happening. They may need counselling support or time off to look after their children so try to be flexible in allowing them the time they need to adapt yo their changing circumstances.

You should also be prepared to give your employee an extended leave of absence, if required. How long this should be will vary for each individual – so make sure you are accommodating to their needs. If you give them a hard time about taking time off, they may leave your company permanently.

HR Initiatives - employee divorce

Offer support with mental wellbeing
Organisations have (rightly) started taking mental health more seriously in recent years – and when one of your employees is going through a relationship breakdown, it is essential that you continue with this.

You can support your staff member by offering to provide them with:

  • Resources for mental health support
  • Contact info for high-quality divorce solicitors
  • Referrals for therapy or counselling

Be considerate of your employee’s job performance over the next few months. Relationship breakdowns are extremely traumatic periods, and the mental wellbeing of your staff member must therefore take priority.

Support employees with HR Initiatives
HR Initiatives have a team of qualified experts, with lots of experience supporting employees who are going through a divorce.

If you want support in this area, contact us today on or call 01438 742 056 to discuss how we can help.