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To support higher levels of work engagement, employees adopting flexible working need support in managing the interface between work and home-life

A stable, positive home/family life was shown to enable people to be more engaged in their work, with the resulting reduction in Work-Family Conflict, improving Work Engagement scores. Furthermore, a stable, positive home/family life has been shown to improve Relationship Quality, which, in turn, may predict higher levels of Work Engagement, creating a virtuous cycle.

The headline finding in a 2015 UK study (Burnett et al: 2015) found that there was a positive association between Relationship Quality and Work Engagement that exists independently of the other work-centric, relationship-centric and socio-demographic factors. That is, high Relationship Quality would extend to improvements in Work Engagement. Likewise, improvements in Work Engagement would predict increases in Relationship Quality.

To support higher levels of work engagement, employees adopting flexible working need support in managing the interface between work and home-life given the association with Relationship Quality.

This UK study shows that it is in the employers’ interest to do what they can to maintain or improve levels of Relationship Quality among their staff to improve productivity and performance. This could range from creating more family-friendly workplaces, offering paid parental leave, flexible working arrangements and personal leave for caring responsibilities and mental health care.

Additionally, by offering online relationship support or counselling through to having support available for those that could face relationship difficulties in the future (such as those becoming parents for the first time), can make a significant impact on work engagement.

Following are a some (but not all) of the pitfalls employers need to observe to ensure work engagement is maximised:

  • Employers need to ensure that flexible working does not become ‘all the time working’, preventing expectations that employees are permanently available.
  • Employers should avoid the assumption that women will not want to focus on their careers if they have children, additionally ensuring that they monitor the effects of discrimination and unconscious bias.
  • Employers should observe and monitor men to ensure that flexible working policies are aligned and communicated in such a way that men are able to access them equally, without concern over it damaging their career.

Based on this evidence, employers are encouraged to view Relationship Quality as an asset, and one that requires investment.

Tune in next week for a discussion about work stress and home life stress and how both may impact negatively for businesses.


  • Burnett, S. B, Coleman, L, Houlston, C and Reynolds, J., 2015: Happy Homes and Productive Workplaces – Summary Report of research findings. OnePlusOne and Working Families UK

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

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