Jenny is getting married. Laura is filing for divorce. Jerry's home is in foreclosure. Brian is buying a house. Employees at small businesses and large corporations across the country are dealing with personal legal issues that decrease productivity and increase absenteeism. Happy events like marriage and having children impact the workplace just as much as life's not-so-joyful complications, such as traffic tickets, bankruptcy and death of a family member.

According to a recent ARAG study, employees experiencing at least one legal event in the past year spent, on average, 17 hours at work dealing with the issue, and took an average of 9.5 days off work for legal events.

How can you help your clients' employees - as well as your own employees - leave personal legal problems at home to increase productivity? Simplify their complicated lives through a robust voluntary benefits program, including legal solutions.

 

Productivity drain

"Measuring the Effects of Employee Financial and Legal Woes," a study conducted by Russell Research and commissioned by ARAG, reports three out of four full-time employees experienced at least one legal life event in the past 12 months. Of those who dealt with a legal event, nearly 50% reported they took time off work to deal with it, and 55% said it impacted their work.

"Employees' legal and financial problems can impact engagement and productivity at work," says Kevin Thomason, benefits coordinator at law firm Crowell & Moring. "Offering voluntary legal benefits can help employees solve these personal problems more efficiently."

The anemic economy has amplified anxiety levels at countless businesses, and many employees are having trouble managing their roles and relationships in the workplace and at home while adjusting to doing more work with fewer resources. When employees are stressed or distracted, they're less effective and efficient on the job.

"The weakened economy has increased our employees' stress level at home and at work," said Colleen Higgins-Vigil, benefits administrator for the City of Santa Fe, N.M. "We've found that taking a proactive approach by offering voluntary benefits like group legal insurance heads off some of that stress. If we can fight it before it gets out of control, we can keep employee productivity and engagement from decreasing."

You could say it's not only personal; it's business, too, since lost productivity affects business operations and profitability. Stressed-out employees cost American industry more than $300 billion annually in lost hours due to absenteeism, reduced productivity and workers' compensation benefits, according to an article published by the Financial Literacy Partners, LLC, called "Employee Financial Stress is Costing Your Company a Bundle - And How You Can Stop It Now."

Combat these workplace problems by making important resources available to employees to prevent and deal with legal issues. A legal plan reduces the time your employees might spend at work researching attorneys, making phone calls and calculating out-of-pocket costs.

Healy is VP of group sales at legal insurance provider ARAG. He has more than 20 years of insurance industry experience, with a primary focus in the sale of group voluntary benefit products to employer groups of all sizes. Reach him directly at Dennis.Healy@ ARAGgroup.com.

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