Trina Dolenz

Trina Dolenz
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Friday, August 11, 2017

One in three people feel pressured to put work before their relationships



Labor of love – or labor versus love?, A report that looks at our relationships and work, examining the quality of our relationships at work and the extent to which we’re able to balance work and relationships effectively.
We know that both love and labor are important for our well being. We’re social animals and we need good relationships with others to thrive – we suffer in isolation. Meaningful, satisfying work which can be a labor of love rather than simply hard graft, is important to our well being – we’re productive beings too.
But our well being also depends on a careful balance between the two. The extent to which work contributes to well being depends in large part on relationships at work. Our relationships at home are also both affected by and in turn impact upon our work – achieving an effective work-family balance is essential to our well being and to our performance at work.
When we’re satisfied with work and our work-family balance, we’re more productive. When we’re overworked, we’re more likely to become ill, perform less well, or leave jobs – and the pressure from work can also lead to the deterioration of our relationships at home – which, in its turn, also reduces our engagement at work. So work and relationships are intimately related – and can either form a vicious circle of deterioration in both, or a positive virtuous circle of satisfaction and productivity.

Happily, we found our workplace relationships are mostly in good health:
  • Three-quarters (75%) of employees reported good quality relationships with colleagues.
  • Almost two-thirds (63%) said their relationship with their boss was good.
However, digging a little deeper, we observed some quite unequal experiences here in terms of gender, age, sexuality, social grade, disability and whether or not employees worked flexibly. And overall, 12% said their boss behaves in an intimidating/bullying way towards them.
Striking the right balance between work and family can often be hard to achieve. We found:
  • A third (33%) of employees agreed that their employer thinks the ideal employee is available 24 hours a day
  • 27% agreed that they work longer hours than they would choose and this is damaging their well being
  • A third (33%) agreed that their employer thinks work should be the priority in a person’s life
  • Over a fifth (21%) agreed that attending to care responsibilities is frowned upon at work
  • A quarter (25%) agreed that stress experienced at home adversely affects them at work
However, the good news is that this conflict between work and relationships is not simply a fact of working life. It is quite possible to improve work-family balance as well as workplace relationships – with clear benefits both for employees, their families and employers.
For example, a recurring theme across many of our findings was the importance of control/autonomy at work: employees who had flexible working arrangements were doing better at balancing work and family, on the whole, than those who didn’t. So employers can support employees to work flexibly.
Employers can also offer employees and their families relationship support services through Employee Assistance , for example. We found 43% of employees wanted this.
Given the clear ways in which our relationships and our work are linked, there is a powerful case for employees, employers and policy makers to take action to invest in and support good quality relationships, leading to important benefits both for employees and their families, as well as employers and productivity. This will help us to balance work and relationships – with important benefits for employees, families, and employers, and across society at large.

How we can help

Read our tips on re-aligning your work-life balance.
Worried that stress at working is causing you problems in your relationship? Talk to one of our counselors

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