Do break-ups damage productivity at work?

When people are emotionally distracted, workplace productivity is damaged through absence – both physical and mental.

And there is little more emotionally distracting than the breakdown of a domestic romantic relationship, especially when it comes to the affect it has on productivity at work. 

Romantic relationship breakdown and subsequent mental absence is especially damaging in the corporate world because the nature of the work is so mentally demanding.

That client pitch could spell the difference between missing or hitting your targets for the year.

That multi-million deal (or was that multi-billion?) requires super focus to close.

The problem is greater than employers might think when it comes to productivity at work.

Our research has found that issues in romantic relationships at home are having a significant impact on how the UK’s high-earners perform when they are in the office.

Research that was carried out for us by YouGov shows that more than 40% of people with household incomes of at least £100,000 have had domestic problems that were bad enough to significantly damage productivity at work.

The figure is about the same as the proportion of people who will encounter mental health problems in their lifetime.

Poor mental health was recently estimated by Deloitte to cost UK employers £33 billion to £42 billion every year.

Quite rightly, firms spend a lot of money trying to tackle it.

But these same firms are doing virtually nothing about something that also has a very serious impact on well-being and performance.

This has to change.

The extra challenge in the corporate world is that the very nature of the work itself can create or exacerbate relationship problems.

High stress, long hours and extended time apart to travel on business take their toll.

When you add to the mix the high-octane combination of power, success, the trappings of wealth, and multiple rounds of corporate entertainment that often abound in these environments, the temptation is generally in no short supply.

The vulnerability that can come from being surrounded by beautifully presented people, each throwing off warmer vibes than the daggers that were being shot at you as you left home under stress that morning, is not to be underestimated.

As a corporate employer then, the simple question is this – what can you do to improve the well-being and productivity of employees? How can you help them to improve their performance at work?

What are the secrets to greater productivity at work?

It’s a question that all good managers, directors and owners should be asking themselves whenever they get enough of a break from ‘doing their own stuff’ to be able to think about how everyone else goes about their jobs.

We have identified four habits that allow people to strengthen or repair their romantic relationships and improve their performance in the workplace.

The 4 Habits for better performance at work are…

  • Be CURIOUS, not critical – which helps people get over the hurdle of frustration that comes from unmet expectations.
  • Be CAREFUL, not crushing – which helps people get over the hurdle of poor conflict resolution approaches and the damage they can cause in relationships.
  • ASK, don’t assume – which helps people get over the hurdle of frustration that comes from mistrust and disrespect that can creep into relationships over time.
  • CONNECT before you correct – which is all about getting better at communicating real value and appreciation, and holding back on that need to give “constructive feedback” that so many of us are all too good at! 
Woman tearing up photo of happy couple

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Relationship breakdown and the workplace - YouGov Research Report

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