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Work Pressures Can Damage Relationships

Relationships are coming under increasing pressure in the UK because of an expectation by employers that work should be the top priority for their employees.

Work Before Family Life

This is the conclusion of a recent report by Relate and Relationships Scotland, which found that a third of workers say their boss thinks work should come before family life, and a further third say their employer thinks the ideal employee should be available 24-hours a day. As a result, employees feel overworked, stress builds up and this causes relationships to suffer.

The research also found that:

  • 30% of employees say they feel pressured to work by their manager even when they are ill.
  • 21% of employees say attending to care responsibilities is frowned upon at work.
  • 27% of employees say they work longer hours than they would choose and this is damaging their physical or mental wellbeing.
  • 25% of employees agree that stress at home adversely affects them at work.
  • 43% of employees say they would like their employer to offer relationship support.

Employers Should Provide Relationship Support

According to relationship counsellors, work-life balance is the third biggest strain on couple relationships, after affairs and not understanding each other.

Relate highlights that employees struggling to balance work and family are more likely to become ill, perform less well and resign; but those satisfied with work and work-life balance are more likely to perform better and be more productive.

Relate and Relationships Scotland are therefore calling on employers to offer flexible working arrangements as default and to provide free relationship support as part of Employee Assistance Programmes.

“As this study highlights, work-life balance in this country is shockingly poor and this is hugely damaging for our relationships and overall wellbeing – as well as for productivity,” commented Manchester University’s Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE, President of Relate. “Employers need to take more responsibility for the pressure that stress and lack of work-life balance can put on relationships at home.”

Access to Family Mediation

These calls have been echoed by mediation charity National Family Mediation (NFM), however the charity believes that bigger employers should go even further and provide easy access to family mediators for employees who are going through a divorce or separation.

According to NFM, this would help to relieve the stress and expense of divorce on employees, which in turn would allow them to be more focused and productive at work.

“The pressures and stresses of balancing work and home life are amplified when relationships breakdown as life goes into free fall,” explained Jane Robey, CEO of NFM.

“We fully support the report’s calls for employers to be more proactive about providing relationship support, but this needs to extend beyond relationship counselling and into the practicalities of handling the whirlwind of family breakdown, separation and divorce,” she said.

“One in two marriages end in divorce,” she added. “Look at any large employer and you’ll find at any one time significant numbers of staff will be experiencing the upheaval that separation creates.”

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