Strong family relationships support the workplace rather than compete with it

28 June 2012

While many employers take the view that they have no part to play in employees' personal lives, new research undertaken by the relationships research charity OnePlusOne and the work-life balance charity  Working Families, suggests that they should, as people’s lives at home and at work have a significant impact on each other.

The findings of the ‘Happy Homes Productive Workplaces’ report will be presented to an invited audience of HR professionals, employers, journalists and academics at an event hosted by Citi on 28th June. Yvonne Roberts, Chief Leader Writer at The Observer, will chair a panel discussion on the significance of the report for employers and employees.

The key finding of the research, based on a survey of over 2000 employees, is that high levels of relationship quality are associated with higher work engagement, and vice versa. This goes against the common assumption that work and home are almost inevitably in conflict.

Beyond making the case for flexible working the research produces new findings and challenges some stereotypes:

  • There is a cycle effect – where work pressures affect relationship quality and relationship quality affects work engagement.
  • The impact of work stress on home life is stronger than the impact of home stress on work engagement.
  • Women are more engaged at work than men.
  • Parents are no less engaged at work than non-parents.

Penny Mansfield, Director of OnePlusOne said:

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“Employers are not responsible for creating happy homes, but as this research shows happy homes are a hidden asset and worth investing in. How? At the very least, employers need to organise and manage work in ways that don’t put employees’ relationships in jeopardy. But the smart approach would be to recognise that the quality of employees’ relationships is not only protective for employees at times of high work stress, but also a competence that can enhance work and customer relationships, the ability to attract and retain creative and committed employees and improve business performance.”

Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families said:

“This research shows that when work has a negative impact on employees’ personal lives, it creates a feedback-loop that also reduces their engagement at work. It also busts the myth that family responsibilities mean reduced work performance. There is no difference in Work Engagement between parents and non-parents, and women are more engaged than men. So it is vital for employers to be alert to signs of stress, presenteeism, and long-working hours, and ensure that work is well organised. The better you support all your people at home, the better they will perform for you at work.”

OnePlusOne and Working Families hope that in promoting the evidence they can bring about a culture change; encouraging employers to support staff well-being and strengthen their family relationships. The next stage of the Happy Homes Productive Workplaces project is to collate the business case for employers supporting employee relationships, and to develop and trial policies and procedures for employers to put in place.