A report by the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships

Troublesome personal and family relationships are a top cause of employee stress, yet it seems that many companies and organisations fail to support staff appropriately.

During December 2012 and January 2013 the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships conducted an online survey of senior HR staff working in London-based companies, receiving responses from 233 of those approached.

Here are some of the main points of the report:

  • Although troublesome personal and family relationships are a top cause of employee stress, more than a quarter of organisations that report stress as one of the top five causes of absence are not taking any steps to address it, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
  • The negative impacts which couple relationship distress is known to cause include depression, anxiety and poor work performance; relationship distress can also affect cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, neurosensory and other physiological systems that, in turn, contribute to physical health problems.
  • An online survey of senior of senior HR staff working in London-based companies conducted by the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships in December-January 2012-13 shows that employers do not see interventions for relationship distress as either their responsibility or something which their employees are calling for them to provide. This is despite the fact that almost 95% of those who responded to TCCR’s survey either agreed or strongly agreed that employees’ couple relationships difficulties affect work performance.
  • TCCR’s survey indicates that while a third of employers will refer employees to couple counselling, the vast majority refer on to individual therapy despite evidence suggesting that individual counselling is less effective for relationship difficulties than couple approaches.
  • Social attitudes towards couple counselling are still somewhat conflicted, with a significant degree of stigma attached to both the admission of, and seeking of help for, relationship difficulties.
  • However, with more than a third of employers coming across an employment issue which is in some way related to an employee’s relationship with their partner between every one to six months, TCCR is calling on HR managers to familiarise themselves with the considerable evidence base regarding the benefits of couple counselling, and to ensure that it becomes standard practice for the couple relationship dimension to be given due consideration when assessing and assisting an employee who is struggling at work.
  • TCCR is also calling for HR professionals who have responsibility for the wellbeing of employees to have training to enable them to feel comfortable addressing this area of difficulty so that employees, in turn, can feel comfortable sharing such problems.


View the full report here

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