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Support and friendship among co-workers may boost romantic relationships at home, study finds

Feeling supported at work can positively affect home and work life

Happy coworkers concept
Photo (c) Luis Alvarez - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Bath explored how support in the workplace may benefit consumers’ relationships at home. According to their findings, having friends in the workplace may help employees be supportive of their partners and encourage them to think more creatively to solve problems both at home and at work.  

“Employees take the support they receive from co-workers home with them, and in a loving relationship they transfer this support to their partner,” said researcher Yasin Rofcanin. “This might mean they encourage them to open up about stresses, seek to resolve issues, or make improvements to the juggle of work-life arrangements that benefit the family. 

“The result is that both members of a couple benefit,” Rofcanin said. “Spouses pass on support received from co-workers and partners will be more creative at work, in what is termed a ‘gain spiral.’ So it pays for employers to recognize the value of caring co-workers.” 

Wide-reaching benefits of workplace support

For the study, the researchers analyzed diary entries from over 200 full-time employees. All of the participants were in dual-income relationships, and 80% of them had children. Participants reported on their experiences at work, their relationships with their spouses, how workplace experiences affected relationships at home, and vice versa. 

The study showed that there was a positive correlation between support from co-workers and greater support in spousal relationships. The more supported the participants felt at work, the more likely they were willing to share those feelings with their spouses at home. Participants were more likely to get creative in their problem-solving with their partners, and they generally felt a greater sense of balance between work and family responsibilities. 

The researchers also found that this trend correlated with performance at work. When employers felt more supported at work, which translated into better relationships at home, they were also more likely to be more creative in their roles at work. 

The researchers explained that this relationship between workplace support and stronger spousal relationships was most effective when co-workers helped with problems related to home life. This included feeling supported through dealing with a sick child, general life challenges, issues with caregiving responsibilities that may affect work performance, or any other personal issues that may come up. 

Moving forward, the researchers hope these findings prove to be beneficial for employers. While co-workers aren’t guaranteed to be friends, creating a supportive work environment can benefit employers’ personal and professional lives. 

“So much research points to the stresses of being in a dual-income couple, it’s refreshing to see a win for loving relationships alongside work,” Rofcanin said. “While we’re not suggesting employers should meddle in relationships, they may be able to positively contribute to the quality of relationships at home by putting policies and procedures in place to minimize work-family conflict, such as limiting overtime and expectations to respond to emails outside of hours.” 

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