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
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
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
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?