Magazine article Workforce

10 Tips to Breaking the Work vs. Love Problem

Magazine article Workforce

10 Tips to Breaking the Work vs. Love Problem

Article excerpt

Many employers think delving into their employees' marriages is prying, and to an extent that's true. But employees don't need their bosses to meddle in their marriages, they need them to be supportive and acknowledging of the fact that they have personal relationships that may need some work to stay alive.

According to Howard Markman, psychology professor at the University of Denver and co-author of the study that showed marital distress costs companies $6.8 billion in lost productivity, employers who choose to help employees maintain healthy relationships can easily recoup the costs of their investment. "For every dollar invested in relationship-building efforts," he explains, "companies can reap $5 to $20 in return through decreased health-care costs and increased productivity."

Here are a few ways companies might be able to help employees maintain healthy relationships:

1. Offer relationship enrichment courses. Because people aren't taught how to have healthy relationships in this culture, companies would be doing their employees a huge favor simply by helping them develop the communication and problem-solving skills needed to maintain loving relationships. Brownbag seminars on this topic would be a good start.

Jaine and James Carter, married co-authors of the book, "He Works/ She Works: Successful Strategies for Working Couples," ((C) 1995, Amacom Books, New York City) have started to give corporate seminars on balancing careers and relationships. As they explain: "Companies shouldn't play big brother to employees, but they can help provide employees with the skills needed to withstand relationship stress."

2. Educate managers and hold them accountable. When family-friendly policies fail, it's usually because individual managers aren't supportive of family concerns. Educating managers about the economic reasons for acknowledging an employee's personal needs and holding those managers accountable for adhering to family-friendly policies will help employees feel more comfortable in taking advantage of those policies.

3. Make flextime truly flexible. Recognize that employees may occasionally need to leave work a couple of hours early for personal reasons-including celebrating an anniversary or attending marriage counseling. A little bit of scheduling flexibility will go a long way. …

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