New research shows women employees are more engaged at work than men

26 October 2012

Many employers take the view that they have no part to play in employees’ personal lives but new research undertaken by the relationships research charity OnePlusOne and the work-life balance charity Working Families suggests this is short sighted as people’s home and work lives have a significant impact on each other.

The message for policy makers and employers is an important one that they cannot afford to ignore: in these insecure times rather than competing with the workplace strong family relationships were found to improve work engagement.

Moreover the research challenges some gender stereotypes; finding that far from being distracted by juggling child care and work responsibilities – women are in fact more engaged at work than their male colleagues.

Furthermore parents are no less engaged at work than the perceived more career orientated women or men without children.

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 productivity, and vice versa. This goes against the common assumption that for women 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 personal relationships and relationship stability affects work productivity.
  • The impact of work stress on home life is more significant than the impact of home stresses on work engagement.
  • Women are more engaged at work than men.
  • Parents are no less engaged with work than non-parents.

Penny Mansfield, Director of OnePlusOne said:

“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”