Dr David Marjoribanks: Relationship support provides benefits to employers and employees


The UK labour force is increasingly over-worked and stressed out. Relate and Relationships Scotland’s study, A labour of love – or labour versus love?, published in October 2016, warns that a third of employees feel pressured to put work before family, and this is taking its toll on relationships.

Our wellbeing depends on balancing work and family, and both suffer when we cannot. When we are overworked, we are more likely to become ill, perform less well, and move jobs. And when work pressures affect relationships, the impact is exacerbated, as strained relationships worsen health and reduce resilience. A quarter of employees say stress from home adversely affects their work.

But when we are able to achieve balance and our relationships are in good health, we are more likely to perform better and be more engaged in our work. So there are clear benefits, for both employees and employers, in terms of wellbeing and productivity, for supporting a good work-family balance.

That is why Relate is calling on employers to provide relationship support through employee assistance programmes (EAPs) for employees whose relationships are under pressure.

Research by MetLife Employee Benefits, published in April 2016, found that 22% of HR professional respondents had provided relationship counselling to employees. Most employers provide individual counsellingrather than relationship counselling, yet there is clear evidence that individual counselling is less effective for relationship difficulties.

There is definitely an appetite among staff for this: 43% of employees in our survey said they would support their employer offering relationship support to employees and their partners or families as part of employee benefit schemes. More organisations now need to recognise the benefits of relationship support for employees, their families and employers.

Dr David Marjoribanks is policy and public affairs manager at Relate