Lovewell’s logic: Redrawing boundaries in employer/employee relationships

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck

How comfortable would you be offering relationship advice via the workplace? Would this be seen as a valuable source of support by employees or as crossing the boundaries of the employee/employer relationship?

According to research published by Relate and Relationships Scotland, The way we are now: labour of love or labour vs love, 43% of the 5,000 respondents would like their employer to offer relationship support.

When I first read this statistic, I have to admit that I was initially sceptical. After all, we know that many employees can be reluctant to take up services such as their organisation’s employee assistance programme (EAP) for fear of the impression it will give to their employer, so how many would be likely to admit they would like relationship support?

However, on greater reflection, offering access to such services via the workplace may actually make a great deal of sense. Individuals spend the largest portion of their waking hours in the workplace, so enabling them to access such support could make the difference between seeking the help they need or not.

With the best will in the world, there is no getting away from the fact that even the most conscientious, committed and engaged employee is only human. No matter how much they might want to, leaving home-related and personal issues at the door simply isn’t going to happen. Inevitably, this will result in reduced concentration and lower productivity levels. In some cases, the stress and pressure involved can even lead to a period of absence. In fact, the above survey also found that 25% of respondents said stress at home adversely affects them at work.

So, providing a way for staff to access support may prove advantageous for employers. How such services are positioned to ensure they are perceived in the desired way by employees would be crucial to the success of any such initiative.

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So, should employers consider providing relationship support via the workplace? Or would this place too great a burden of responsibility on organisations for the welfare of their staff?

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell