Unhappy Marriages Cost Businesses $6.8 Billion a Year

All businesses are concerned with boosting productivity and reducing health care costs and employee turnover. This combination has become even more crucial in today’s competitive economy. Often missed, however, is the significant economic cost businesses actually bear for carrying employees on the payroll who are unhappily married or undergoing divorce.

Whether corporate America notices it or not, employees in failing relationships are costing it about $6.8 billion a year. Employees with relationship woes are frequently absent or sick, present at their desks in body but not spirit, or just too stressed out to do their jobs properly. Stress-related problems cost corporate America $300 billion a year.

What is more, couples who aren’t getting along are more likely to be troubled by domestic violence in an attempt to “solve” their conflict, which costs corporate America 7.9 million in lost work days each year. In addition, employees in such relationships are more prone to substance abuse problems and depression that, in turn, lead to higher health care costs.

As bad as failing marriages are for corporate America, the financial fallout for divorce is no better. A 2006 research study found that the projected cost to a company of an employee making $20 an hour who gets divorced is more than $8,000. In fact, recently divorced employees spend eight percent of their work days away from work because of relationship-related issues. That is the equivalent of being absent from work an entire month!

Even more telling, researchers have found that it can take as many as five years for employee productivity to return to what it was before an employee got divorced.

So far I have examined what happens to employees in troubled relationships who stay on the job. But what happens if the stress of a bad marriage or difficult divorce leads an employee to quit? The financial impact of this situation varies depending on whether the employee occupied a blue collar position or managerial post. A company forced to replace a blue collar worker will spend 150 percent of his total benefit package to do so. Meanwhile, the true cost of replacing a manager is 250 percent of his total benefit package.

As a marriage and family therapist who often consults with large corporations, I am offering these figures not just to illuminate a little-known problem but to suggest a solution. I believe it is imperative that all executives concerned with the welfare of their employees realize that the health of employees’ marriages is directly correlated with the health of their business’s bottom line. Companies can not afford to turn a blind eye to or ignore the marital problems of their employees. Instead they must look for creative ways to help their employees improve their relationships. This will be a win-win situation for everyone – the employees and their spouses who can enjoy the benefits of a strong union, and the employers who stand to gain stable and happier employees who are more able to make a strong contribution to the day to day operations of the companies for which they work. Of course, then employees and their families are spared the high emotional cost of marital turmoil and divorce as well.

About the Author: Beth Erickson is a marriage and family therapist, radio host, book author and developer of “The Best Part of Your Life” program for executives, entrepreneurs and their spouses. Dr. Beth has appeared on NPR and in Cosmo, USA Today and other national media.

Visit http://www.Dr.BethErickson.com to receive email updates from her and take a marriage assessment quiz that lets you know how your marriage stacks up against others. And visit http://www.AskDrBethErickson.com if you want to ask her a question

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