As you know, we really care about creating positive work environments where employees can thrive. We’ve talked about what thriving at work looks like and what environments are conducive to thriving. However, it wasn’t the full picture. Recent research digs into how family can impact an employee’s ability to thrive at work. Today, we break down that research and hope to encourage employers to think about how to support employees’ family lives as well!
First, as a refresher, to be thriving at work is to feel energized (vitality) and like you are continuously growing and developing (learning). If you want more details, check out our previous post. Thriving at work leads to a lot of positive things like wellness, positive attitudes, and better performance. A good work environment and support of colleagues really help increase an employee’s ability to thrive. However, we know that employees do not just exist in the work context. Things outside of work can influence us at work – like our families.
Family incivility is defined by low-intensity behaviors that show disrespect. It’s not to the level of abuse or aggression but it has the outcome of making people feel disrespected, ignored, or hurt. It can be when a family member puts you down or makes a demeaning comment about you. It can be when someone is rude to you for no known reason.
As you can imagine, it doesn’t feel good to be experiencing family incivility. In addition, these types of behaviors can make you ruminate and question why you are being treated this way. And, those feelings don’t just stay in the home. When you go to work, it can make it harder for you to focus. This new research shows family incivility leads to increased family to work conflict (a.k.a. family problems ‘bleeding’ into your work life). And that conflict leads to a decrease in thriving at work for the impacted employee. In other words, when things aren’t great at home, it can be a lot harder for you to thrive at work too.
What about when your family is awesome? When your family is supportive? Family support is characterized by the availability and ability of family members to provide help or guidance. Obviously, it feels good to have your family’s support. A supportive family member listens when you are struggling. They help in any way possible to make things easier for you.
Yet, similar to family incivility, family support does have an impact on thriving at work – just in the opposite direction. This new study shows that family support leads to an increase in family to work enhancement (a.k.a. positive things from your family life ‘bleeding’ into your work life). And that enhancement leads to an increase in thriving at work for the lucky employee. In other words, when you have support at home, it makes it easier for you to thrive at work!
Thriving at Work Learnings
So, what do we do with this new information? For one, if you are impacted by family incivility, know that it’s normal to feel like you are struggling at work too. It’s hard to keep your worlds separate. Know it’s not because of you personally and give yourself grace.
But what about leaders and organizations? This research is a major reminder that employers need to support employees and their family situations too. What types of resources can you provide your employees for when they are dealing with family incivility? How can you give people space when they cope with difficult situations at home? There’s a lot that leaders can do to provide support that will not only impact the employees’ wellness, but also their performance on the job.