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The Secret to Getting What You Need at Work and Home

One of our core messages at Life Meets Work is about the importance of conversations.

We talk to both managers and employees about the value of work-life conversations, at home and at work. We encourage managers to foster an environment where it’s safe to talk about work-life needs.

When employees can be transparent about their work-life needs, the team can better work together to provide support and coverage. Meanwhile, the team gets more strategic and more realistic about how much work can get done within a given time frame. The result? Fewer emergencies, less burnout, and lower turnover.

At the same time, we educate employees to have those same conversations at home. This is particularly prevalent with our Working Parent Coaching clients, many of whom need gentle reminders to ask for (or negotiate) help with household responsibilities.

That’s why we found it intriguing when the new “Modern Families” study (PDF, 2.3 MB, 27 pages) from Families and Work Institute specifically called out the value of conversations as a key indicator of satisfaction among couples.

Researchers set out to learn how gender, income, and work hours influence the division of labor in a household. What they found:

Satisfaction in the division of household responsibilities is driven more by whether couples have a conversation about how to divide responsibilities rather than how the tasks are divided or whether the couple is same-sex or different-sex.

Researchers found that women are less likely to initiate a conversation about what they want—regardless of whether they live in a different-sex or same-sex household. In general, there’s less tongue-biting among men. Women need to speak up, and their partners need to invite conversation.

Sounds like good advice for the workplace, too.

P.S. Do take a moment and check out the “Modern Families” study. There’s some really important landmark work here around contemporary gender issues in same-sex and different-sex couples.