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This meeting of the APPG explored the links between relationship quality and workforce engagement.

Dr Lester Coleman (One Plus One) began the session with a presentation (below) looking at research carried out by One Plus One which found that the following five factors had an independent and statistically significant association with relationship quality:

  •   Work Engagement: those who were more engaged at work reported better Relationship Quality with their partner
  •   Parental-status: Parents had lower Relationship Quality than non-parents
  •   Work-Family Conflict: Those with greater levels of Work-Family Conflict (work-life impacting on family-life) reported worse Relationship Quality
  •   Family-Work Conflict: Those with greater levels of Family-Work Conflict (family-life impacting on work-life) reported worse Relationship Quality
  •   Flexibility: Those who worked flexibly reported lower levels of Relationship Quality compared to those who do not
  •   Relationship Quality: Those with better Relationship Quality reported higher levels of Work Engagement
  •   Gender: Women reported higher Work Engagement compared to men
  •   Work Centrality: Those who saw work as more central to their lives were more engaged at work
  •   Work-Family Conflict: Those with greater levels of Work-Family Conflict (work-life impacting on family-life) reported lower Work Engagement
  •   Family-Work Conflict: Those with greater levels of Family-Work Conflict (family-life impacting on work-life) reported lower Work Engagement
  •   Sector of employment (Public): Those who work in the Public sector were less engaged at work compared to those in the Private sector
  •   Level of seniority (Junior level) (which correlates with low annual income): Thoseemployed at a Junior level were less engaged at
  •   work than those at a Senior or Chair/CEO/MD level
  •   Level of seniority (Mid-level) (which correlates with middle annual income):
  •   Those employed at a Mid-level were less engaged at work than those at a Senior or Chair/CEO/MD level
  •   Flexibility: Those who work flexibly were more engaged at work than those who did not.

Research also found that the following nine factors had an independent and statistically significant association with work engagement:

Presentation by Dr Lester Coleman

The second presentation was by Simon Langley, Inclusion and Diversity Lead at Nationa Grid. Simon Langley talked about the strong business case for employers supporting their employees' relationships. He described how major employers can often struggle to find high calibre employers, and how it makes little sense therefore not to support employees in any way they can. Simon continued by talking about the age profile of workers in his organisation (average age 49) and how National Grid has realised that younger people coming in to refresh their organisation will have different expectations of an employer's role. It is vital, Simon maintained, that employers develop strong employee networks, and can recognise all the things inside and outside work that affect employees (for example, National Grid has been piloting some classes to help new fathers as they adjust to the changes taking place in their lives). Mr Langley also spoke about the importance of flexible working while also maintainining proper boundaries between work and home life; and that his organisation's rationale for taking these issues seriously stems from an understanding of the 'bottom line' and strong business case for doing so.

The third presentation was by Charlotte Sweeney (Consultant to the current OnePlusOne/Working Families DfE-funded project Strengthening Relationships, and formerly Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Lead at Nomura Bank). Charlotte discussed how her work with National Grid had included in initial performance audit pilot looking at how an organisation currently relationships
and non-work Issues at work; and that this had been followed by the development of a diagnostic tool whose aim was to ‘to identify the gap between any policy or espoused commitment stated in an organisation linking the skills and knowledge required to effectively manage relationships in a way that translates directly between home and work and visa versa (both positively and negatively) and the actual reality experienced by individual employees’. Her presentation (below) then went on to outline some of the findings of this work.

Presentation by Charlotte Sweeney

The final presentation was from Penny Mansfield CBE (Director of One Plus One) who, in summing up the themes from the previous speakers, re-iterarted that what was important in this work was the link between relationship quality and work engagement – and how this had become the key to starting conversations with employers. Penny explained how the research which Lester had presented had given us a new understanding about the conflict which transfers from work to home; and how an increase in work pressure creates a negative feedback loop, something which it is important to be able to demonstrate to employers.

Penny emphasised that she did not believe that that employers were responsible to creating happy homes, but that it is nevertheless in their interest to recognise relationship quality as an asset that needs to be maintained. Therefore employers needs to organise work so that relationships are not put in jeopardy.