The impact of divorce on business

September 25, 2009
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The news was uncomfortable for Hoosiers when the Census Bureau disclosed this week that three of the top 10 counties in the nation with the highest concentrations of divorced people are in Indiana.

Topping the list was Wayne County (Richmond), where 19 percent of residents at least age 15 are divorced. The other two were Madison County (Anderson) and Floyd County (across the river from Louisville).

Wayne County’s rate is almost double the nation’s, but experts interviewed by national and local news organizations couldn’t explain the numbers. What isn’t known about the Indiana counties is whether the figures were pushed up by high populations of divorced people or simply young people leaving the counties for college or other reasons.

Florida also had three top counties, but one is in the Florida Keys, an archipelago hideout for folks running from ex-spouses and all other manner of trouble.

Just how might divorce affect business? Herman Aguinis, an Indiana University human resources expert, says, “It is illusory to believe that our personal lives do not affect our work lives, and vice versa.”

Research has long showed a correlation between home life and work performance, Aguinis says, and a Boston University study went so far as to discover a link between the status of a particular professor’s marriage and the professor’s student evaluations. The evaluations suffered during the professor’s separation and divorce, and then recovered after a remarriage.

Aguinis adds that the impact of divorce depends on personalities of the individuals involved as well as the families. Some people are more resilient than others.

Longtime human resources professional Harlan Schafir has seen employees go through excruciating divorces, and he thinks he’s onto as good a way as any to handle them.

Schafir, who is majority owner of Exact Hire and Human Capital Concepts in Indianapolis, makes clear to the employee that he understands they will be distracted and lose their productive edge for a time. Then he tells them to come and go from work as they wish; he only wants to know their whereabouts.

Giving workers time to deal with their problems and heal is the right thing to do from a human perspective, Schafir says. But it’s also good business.

“If you develop the right culture, it’s a huge component to your success,” he says. “The way you treat your employees is the way they’ll treat your customers.”

What do you think? In your experience, how has divorce—yours or that of a coworker’s—affected your work place?

Here’s a wrinkle: If marriage is so closely tied to success at work, how do some CEOs and other highly successful people endure multiple divorces and still make it to the top?

  • Having personally gone through this experience and watched it in others, each person is affected differently. Some need to throw themselves into work as a diversion, others can not concentrate, seek outside counseling, etc. A Company leader and HR Director must deal with each differently with open communication, an open mind and compassion. The recovery time of each person going through a personal event such as divorce with vary.

Post a comment to this blog

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.