Happy Spouses = Happier Employees

Matt Palmquist at Strategy+Business explores a new study on work-life balance issues for working married couples, approaching them “not from the viewpoint of companies or supervisors, but through the lens of employees and their husbands or wives.” In general, the findings support a link between happy marriages and stronger performance at work, but they also illustrate how the happiness of an employee’s spouse factors into their job satisfaction and likelihood of staying at their organization:

Combining several streams of research on family dynamics, management, and psychology, the authors administered a survey that queried participants on how much support they received from their direct supervisors and the organization as a whole; the flexibility they were afforded to juggle work and home life; how well their family functioned and cooperated to solve problems; and the extent to which they felt a sense of belonging and fulfillment at their company. The participants were also surveyed about how well they thought their spouse balanced work and family demands; the level of satisfaction they felt in their marriage; and their commitment to their partner’s current firm and future career with the company.

From the company perspective, the authors found compelling evidence that supervisors indeed play an instrumental role in determining the level of support employees feel in managing their dual responsibilities, as do company-wide policies that encourage employees to compartmentalize their family and work obligations.

They also found that positivity circles back to the company — not only does the quality of employees’ overall family life improve with more supervisory and organizational support, but their spouses also hold decidedly more favorable opinions about their company and future prospects at the firm. Put simply, spouses value firms that help their better half manage work–life boundaries and, in turn, will encourage their husband or wife to stay and grow at such companies.

In other words, if you want to retain a married employee, you’d better make sure their spouse is on board, too.