Work Life Week 2022: Why employers need to care about relationships
October 10, 2022

National Work Life Week (10-14 October 2022) is an annual campaign by Working Families, the UK’s national charity for working parents and carers, to get employers and employees talking about work-life balance and wellbeing. This year’s focus is on flexible working.  

Research has shown a strong link between the quality of personal relationships and the productiveness of employees at work, so it makes sense for employers to take a keen interest in supporting their staff to maintain that crucial work-life balance.

During 2011-2012, OnePlusOne worked with Working Families to produce the Happy Homes, Productive Workplaces report. Research with over 2,000 people found that the quality of a person’s home life is often the driving force behind their motivation and performance at work. The happier they are at home, the more productive they are at work.

Similarly, those people who reported better engagement with their work tended to have higher relationship quality than those who said work negatively impacted their family life. 

A staggering 69% of corporate of high-flyers have experienced significant difficulty in committed romantic relationships, compared to just 20% of the general population. 71% of these high-flyers agreed that a strained home life had a serious impact on their work.

In a separate study, 79% of employees said that a divorce or relationship breakdown had had an impact on their ability to work, with 60% saying it affected their mental health in the workplace, causing anxiety, stress, or depression. More than half felt that they didn’t receive the support they needed from their employer.

Overall, these findings are clear. Employers who support their employees to maintain a happy home life will benefit from better productivity at work.

Verity Glasgow, CEO of OnePlusOne, said, “While employers cannot be responsible for creating happy homes, all of the evidence points to it being in their interests to offer whatever support they can to help their employees to maintain a happy, balanced life. It simply makes good moral and economic sense. 

“There is evidence that flexible working practices can generate positive outcomes at work, offering a winning solution for both employers and employees. Having good relationships at work is a key ingredient to making flexible working practices successful. These relational capability skills cross the work-home life border too, making it even more important for employers to understand and invest in them.”

What can employers do to support their employees?

Employers can do a number of things to help their employees with relationships at home and at work:

  • Provide employees with a supportive environment where they can talk about stress at home impacting work and vice versa. This could take the form of training for managers or internal communications teams focusing on relationship transitions like having a baby, moving house, or separation.  
  • Recognise the value of supporting relationships at home, and what this can bring to employees’ overall wellbeing and productivity.  
  • Understand that workload, especially with more home working, will overspill into home life and offer support to employees to manage this stress.
  • Invest in and provide access to relationship support programmes that develop relational capability skills to help manage stressful times at home and at work. These could include online courses like OnePlusOne’s Me, You and Baby Too for new parents, and Getting it right for children, for separating and separated parents.

Tips for talking about stress with your partner

There are many ways that stress can overspill and affect home or work life. Signs of stress may include tiredness and exhaustion, sleeplessness, depression, headaches, tension, arguments, and a lack of concentration. It’s not always easy to talk about, but remembering these rules could help:

  • Stick to the facts.
  • Say how you feel.
  • Practice active listening.
  • Reflect on what’s been said.
  • Ask for support.

It’s always a good idea to keep the basic relational capability skills in mind whenever you have a difficult conversation.

  • Stop and think before you speak.
  • Speak for yourself (start sentences with ‘I’ instead of ‘you’).
  • Step into the other person’s shoes and try to see things differently.

For further information about how employers can support their staff with the development of relational capability skills, or with access to supportive resources that can help them with home life challenges, such as separation, contact the OnePlusOne team at

The figures referred to in this article come from: