Influencing and Inspiring Change

Newsletter: April 2015

This month’s topics include:

Is Relationship Quality a Business Issue?

Earlier this year we were invited to write a blog for Equal Approach on the research conducted by OnePlusOne and Working Families on a ground-breaking study to increase understanding about the association between Relationship Quality and Work Engagement. This has become a highly debated subject given the recent article in People Management on Dave Ulrich’s view that ‘the Future of HR is Relationships’ and both the Harvard Business Review and The Wall Street Journal regularly write about relationships and business impact. This article focuses on what this means for recruiting and retaining employees, although it has an impact on every aspect of the employee life cycle.

In 2012 OnePlusOne and Working Families collaborated on a ground-breaking study to increase understanding about the association between Relationship Quality and Work Engagement. The findings gained significant interest from companies who wanted to understand the impact this has on attracting and retaining the right people. This resulted in a further action-orientated study with five leading employers over a 12-month period to identify how they could convert research findings into action.

In this blog Charlotte Sweeney shares a brief overview of the research findings and what this means for companies who want to increase employee engagement and are committed to creating diverse and inclusive workplaces.

“Given the current economic difficulties, with; increasing global competition, downsizing, long hours cultures, intrinsic job insecurity, and a more robust bottom-line management style, the work-life balance agenda has never been more important. In the midst of this environment, now is the time to focus on - rather than ignore - the impacts that work and home can have on each other.”

Professor Cary Cooper CBE
Distinguished Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health,
Lancaster University

The initial research, Happy Homes and Productive Workplaces, surveyed employees to gain their perspectives on aspects such as relationship quality, levels of work engagement, work-family conflict (work impacting on family life) and family-work conflict (family life impacting on work life).

The headline finding from the research was the positive association between relationship quality and work engagement existed independently of other factors. In short, work-family conflict has a stronger negative influence on both relationship quality and work engagement than family-work conflict. That is stress from work exerts a greater negative impact on work engagement and family life, compared to stress originating from family-life.

This suggests that it is in employers’ interests to recognise relationship quality as an area that should warrant focus and be supported in order to improve work engagement.

Factors that Predict Levels of Work Engagement

The following nine factors were shown to have an impact on work engagement:

  1. Relationship Quality: Those with better relationship quality reported higher levels of work engagement
  2. Gender: Women reported higher work engagement compared to men
  3. Flexibility: Those who work flexibly were more engaged at work than those who did not
  4. Work-Family Conflict: Those with greater levels of Work-Family Conflict (work-life impacting on family-life) reported lower work engagement
  5. Family-Work Conflict: Those with greater levels of Family-Work Conflict (family-life impacting on work-life) reported lower work engagement
  6. Sector of Employment (Public): Those who work in the Public sector were less engaged at work compared to those in the Private sector
  7. Level of Seniority (Junior level) (which correlates with low annual income): Those employed at a Junior level were less engaged at work than those at a Senior level
  8. Level of Seniority (Mid-level) (which correlates with middle annual income): Those employed at a Mid-level were less engaged at work than those at a Senior level
  9. Work Centrality: Those who saw work as more central to their lives were more engaged at work

Factors that Predict Levels of Relationship Quality

The following five factors were shown to have an impact on relationship quality:

  1. Work Engagement: Those who were more engaged at work reported better relationship quality with their partner
  2. Parental-Status: Parents had lower relationship quality than non-parents
  3. Work-Family Conflict: Those with greater levels of work-family conflict reported worserelationship quality
  4. Family-Work Conflict: Those with greater levels of family-work conflict reported worserelationship quality
  5. Flexibility: Those who worked flexibly reported lower levels of relationship quality compared to those who do not

The detailed findings from the research can be viewed here.

This research was taken one step further to understand how the findings could be converted into practical actions that would have a positive impact on relationship quality and work engagement. To do this, we worked with a number of large organisations, employing collectively over 100,000 people in the UK, covering both the public and private sectors and a diverse range of industries. A number of Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SME) were also engaged in a number of interviews to understand their perspective

The research identified a number of key issues:

  • Senior Leaders, Human Resources (HR) Professionals and employees could identify the importance of relationship quality to employee engagement and motivation.
  • There were limited references to relationship quality or capability in organisational policies, procedures and guidelines
  • The majority of participants were able to share clear examples of where work-life and stress from work had a negative impact on their home and personal relationships or where they had seen this in a colleague.
  • All agreed that relationship quality is an important business issue and should be taken more seriously by companies, very few were pro-actively responding to the challenges.

“Although this is not an issue that is actively discussed within UK organisations, with workplaces becoming more pressurised and reported levels of stress on the increase this is a subject that should move from the margins to an important part of a company’s commitment to employee engagement.”

HR Director
Large Employer

The detailed findings from the action orientated research, including a number of tools to enabling you to start working on this can be viewed online by clicking here.

What Does This Mean for Recruiting and Retaining Employees?

As the research shows, creating an inclusive working environment where employee engagement is paramount is much more than fine words in a flexible working policy or a widely communicated diversity aspiration.

Companies that are more advanced on this subject take a holistic approach and understand the impact the quality of employees personal relationships has on all aspects of their employee life cycle.

This has already started to gain traction in the United States with publications such as the Harvard Business Review and The Wall Street Journal debating

  • ‘How Couples Cope with Professional Stress’
  • ‘How A Good Relationship at Home Gives People Emotional, Cognitive and Physical Vigor, Which is Advantageous for the Workplace’
  • ‘Companies Work to Please Spouses - Happy Relationships Lead to Productive Workers’.

For companies to consider how this could have a positive impact within their company consider the following five questions when working on your next recruitment project or reviewing workplace policies and behaviours:

  • If hiring candidates for positions where they may be required to relocate their family, what support do we give them to maintain good family relationships throughout?
  • If candidates / employees spend a significant amount of time away on business how do we support them to maintain effective personal relationships?
  • If candidates / employees are required to change their flexible working arrangements for business reasons how do we consider the impact this may have on their personal circumstances and how do we support them through that?
  • How do we ensure our shared parental leave offerings consider the impact of personal relationships at such a critical life stage?
  • How do we ensure that relationship capability is considered throughout our employee offerings such as onboarding, pay and benefits, health and wellbeing?

Although in its infancy, to create a truly inclusive company and ensure everyone is able to be themselves in the workplace more and more consideration should be given to relationship capability and the impact this has both at work and at home.

“The evidence is mounting that support for individuals and families enhances both employee and organisational wellbeing. It is then vital to devise and implement policies to enable employees to have healthy, functional personal relationships, and be fully engaged at work.”

Professor Cary Cooper CBE
Distinguished Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health,
Lancaster University

For further information of how this could have a positive impact in your workplace please contact Jessica.

About OnePlusOne:

OnePlusOne is a UK charity that strengthens relationships by creating resources that help families and employees tackle relationship issues early.

Building the Best Jobs Market in the World - The Expert View

The UK labour market has undergone significant change in the last decade and can only be expected to accelerate over the next few years. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) feels strongly that the UK’s dynamic labour market is a real competitive advantage and must be nurtured and protected. To explore this, they invited a group of labour market experts to contribute to a book of essays about how we can achieve our important ambition. Their latest piece of research has 24 high profile contributors including economists, trade unionists, academics, members of the House of Lords and business leaders.

We were asked to contribute to the research, Charlotte’s essay ‘A woman’s place is in ... the labour market!’ can be read here where she shares a number of recommendations for action.

A Woman’s Place is in ... The Labour Market! In November 2011, The Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, noted in a speech on Women and the Economy that if the skills and qualifications of women who are currently out of work were fully utilised, the UK could deliver economic benefits of £15 to £21 billion pounds per year - more than double the value of all our annual exports to China. In a similar vein, the Women’s Business Council conducted a number of pieces of research when launched in 2012. They found that by equalising the labour market participation rates of men and women, the UK could further increase economic growth by 0.5 percentage points a year, with potential gains of 10% of GDP by 2030. Female participation in the labour market has undergone a significant shift in the last 50 years. There are thought to be a number of contributing factors to this, including:

  • Growing appetite amongst women to engage in public life and to attain economic independence
  • Increasing economic imperative for women to work as a single wage often no longer supports a family
  • Increasing levels of employment rights - such as equal pay and maternity leave - that have better enabled women to balance work and other responsibilities
  • State investment in childcare

Progress continues to be made in increasing female participation. In February 2015 the Department of Work and Pensions stated that:

  • The female employment rate stands at 68.5%, which is a new record
  • Over half of growth in female employment since 2010 has been in higher skilled occupations such as managers, directors and senior officials
  • There are 250,000 more women in IT, manufacturing and professional and associated industries since 2010
  • Women on FTSE 350 Boards is now at an all time high with no ‘Male Only’ boards in the FTSE 100

Although there has been a much welcomed shift over the years there continues to be challenges and barriers to women fully taking their role in the labour market and the country realising the positive impact this will have on our economy. These include:

  • The continuation of a pay gap in the average full-time pay between men and women. In April 2014 this stood at 9.4%, the lowest it has been since comparative records began in 1997 when it stood at 17.4%
  • Women continue to dominate low paid, low grade work such as within the caring and leisure occupations
  • Women and men are retiring later. Expectations are also shifting as nearly twice as many women (66%) than men (34%) expect to retire past state retirement age
  • Women’s average personal pensions are only 62% of the average for men’s and they make up the majority of pensioners living below the breadline
  • Women continue to be underrepresented in the worlds of business and finance, particularly at higher levels where women continue to be missing from many of the top tables of power
    Caring responsibilities have typically been a major reason for older women’s non- employment as one in five women aged 45-59 is classed as a carer

The Women in Work Index recently ranked the UK 18 out of 27 OCED countries on five key indicators of women’s economic empowerment including equality of earnings with men and the proportion of women in full-time employment, putting the UK behind countries such as Norway, Germany, Australia and Poland.

There is an economic, cultural and moral case to ensure that all barriers are removed to enable women to take their place in the Labour market as they wish. If we were to complete a report card on progress to date the comment may well be “C+ A good start, much more needed to be done!”

Looking forward, there are a number of actions required to take advantage of the progress made to date and to continue to build from this. There is no silver bullet to increasing the participation of women in the labour market, as we have seen in the past. It takes the determination and focus of a number of stakeholders to create the right environments for change and progression, such as Government, Employers and Individuals.

A number of recommendations and actions that would have a positive impact include:

  1. Accountability - Many leaders from all backgrounds talk about creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces and removing barriers from labour market participation and are genuinely committed to making the change. In all cases ’Actions speak louder than words!’ Hold leaders accountable for their specific actions to progress this within their sphere of influence
  2. Much more that Diverse Boards - Focus on the executive pipeline, identify and remove the barriers, creating the leaders of the future that will ensure we see a flow rather than a trickle of women reaching senior roles in all sectors and industries
  3. Flexible Working - Create a serious focus on making flexible working a reality for the majority of the labour market. Create a culture where outputs are valued over and above time spent in the workplace. Create expectations that flexibility is a critical commodity to attracting and retaining future talent - this isn’t a ’nice to have’
  4. Make Shared Parental Leave a Cultural Reality - Drive the principles of Shared Parental Leave through employers. Focus on the actions required to make this a cultural shift where all employees feel they have the opportunity to share their parental leave in a way that works for them rather than a well written policy gathering dust
  5. Support those with Caring Responsibilities - Get serious about supporting workers who have caring responsibilities. Identify the support mechanisms required to keep people with caring responsibilities in the workplace enabling them to combine work with care
  6. Increase Transparency - Be open about the challenges employers are facing to reach parity in the labour market. Publish commitments, share plans for action and be honest about the impact and progress made. Ask for views and thoughts from people at all levels as to what could improve progress and transparency.

As we continue to drive towards gender parity in the labour market it is important to recognise that women are not a homogenous group and should not be treated as such. The wider diversity agenda, including both protected characteristics and diversity of skills, sectors and experiences should not be forgotten.

What is the role of women in the labour market? Surely, that should be exactly the same as men in the labour market, shouldn’t it? As the labour market functions through the interaction of employers and employees one thing is clear for the future. As employee demographics and expectations continue to change so should the interaction and offerings from the employer - what worked well in the labour market 50 years ago, doesn’t work now. What is identified as innovative now will be archaic in another 50 years time. Employers must embrace the changes and adapt to continue to be relevant to a changing employee landscape and remember ... one size certainly does not fit all!

Download your copy of the research and watch the introductory video here.

Opportunity Knocks in 2015?

At the beginning of the year we were interviewed by Thomson Reuters to contribute to an article titled ‘What are the major challenges facing HR directors at banks in 2015?’

The article covered a number of areas that all HR Directors should consider... with many relevant aspects for all sectors, not purely for the Banking domain.

When it comes to Diversity and Inclusion, we highlighted the introduction of the Shared Parental Leave Regulations, the attention shifting slightly to Cultural Diversity and the impact of Age and Generational Diversity as important developments that should be considered by all employers.

Article by Karen Higginbottom - 15th January 2015

What are the major challenges facing HR directors at banks in 2015?
2014 was a tumultuous year for the banking sector, which was beset with corporate scandals, the latest one being the recent forex-rigging debacle.

On top of this, the sector is getting to grips with an avalanche of regulations with regard to remuneration and board governance such as the Capital Requirements Directive IV and the forthcoming Senior Managers and Certified Persons (SM&CP) Regime. What are the major challenges facing HR directors of global banks in 2015? Karen Higginbottom asks the experts to look into their crystal balls.

Andrea Eccles, chief executive of City HR Association, said the challenges facing HR came under the categories of regulation, remuneration and restoration. Eccles said that both EU directives and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) consultation papers had had a major impact on people management activities within banks. “These include the reward elements arising from the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD) IV and the introduction of bonus caps of 100 percent of base pay or 200 percent with shareholder approval. Furthermore, the PRA/FCA are also proposing new conduct rules with the introduction of the Senior Managers [and Certified Persons] Regime which will hold employees - particularly those at the top end - more accountable for their actions. This will result in seismic changes in HR strategy given that the SM&CP is likely to impact the full employee lifecycle from recruitment and on-boarding to performance management and exit.”


Running alongside regulation will be the issue of remuneration and the proposed changes to the Remuneration Code, as put out to consultation by the PRA and FCA between July and October 2014. “Among many proposals,
this is likely to see changes to bonus deferrals, clawback, malus and potentially bonus buy-outs, with tougher financial sanctions aimed at the top management of any future bailed-out banks,” Eccles said.

She said that another remuneration challenge facing HR directors at global banks was the reform to pensions announced in the spring 2014 budget. “The introduction of flexible access on the drawdown of funds within defined contribution schemes will see the need for workplace pre-retirement education of employees up to five years before their actual retirement date,” she told Compliance Complete.


The third challenge facing HR directors in global banks was the need to restore the industry’s reputation, Eccles said. “Many financial institutions, including those of financial disciplines other than banking, have worked hard to identify or re-emphasise their corporate values and to re-state the behaviours required of their employees. As the custodians of most aspects of culture, HR will have its work cut out for it in terms of looking to align performance management schemes to the corporate values and to ensure that reward is allocated accordingly.”

Competition with international markets

There is a fear among banks that regulatory restrictions on bonus payments will mean that talent will move outside the EU, said Mark Thompson, associate director for the Hay Group. “The challenge is therefore to compete with international markets within the new restrictions. The banking industry is responding by introducing new reward elements that are not fixed or guaranteed like base salary, but paid as an allowance which can be adjusted depending on the performance of the business and the contribution of the individual. They have also responded by increasing base pay to make up for the lower bonuses. The challenge that reward managers have is to leverage these new approaches and the new terms around clawback of bonuses to incentivise some intangible elements of the scorecard such as customer satisfaction, as well as the hard cash measures of success.”

Society’s requirements of banks are substantially different coming into 2015, Mark Quinn, UK and Ireland market business leader for talent at Mercer, told Compliance Complete. “If you think back to 2005, societal requirements from banks were about driving economic wealth and about shareholder return. If you reflect to now, the contrast could not be starker. In 2015, there are questions of protection for customers and risk with tier 1 capital requirements imposed onto banks in a different way. A completely different regulatory framework drives banks to be thoughtful about risk appetite.”

Talent strategy

Quinn said this had meant the business strategy of a bank had had to undergo major change. “It’s not about being an engine for growth but it’s about being a steady custodian. What does that mean for the talent strategy? Banks are there to make money but not in a risky way and they require a different profile for success. The template model for the senior leadership in banks has changed radically. Increasingly, there are requirements for people who rise in organisations to have the ability to lead on a generalist basis. Banks are looking for different leadership qualities. It’s about how the business interacts with customers rather than innovation with products.”

There is also the challenge of constant regulation in the banking sector, Quinn said. “The HR function is facing constant application of regulatory rules. There has never been so much external intervention in banking. There is a lot of stuff to do for HR directors because regulatory change is driven heavily by political change and subject to constant change. That constant change feeds into the organisation and they have to deal with it all the time. HR directors will spend far more time dealing with implications of regulatory issues in 2015 than they would like.”

Shared parental leave

One area which HR directors of global banks will need to consider this year will be the impact of shared parental leave in UK, said Charlotte Sweeney, founder of Charlotte Sweeney Associates, diversity, inclusion and wellbeing experts. “This allows eligible women to curtail their right to maternity leave to enable their partners to take shared parental leave. Although this is UK law, there are a number of potential ramifications across global organisations, which include creating the right cultural shift, which means that effective shared parental leave is important. For HR directors that are serious about creating inclusive cultures, this is a key area of focus.”


Sweeney said that although there had been a huge focus within banks on the women on boards agenda, attention was now moving to the need for boards to be culturally diverse. “Cultural diversity is the quality of diverse or different cultures as opposed to monoculture. For global companies where there cannot be a single definition of who is or isn’t an ethnic minority because of the countries [in which] it operates, cultural diversity gives a sense of wanting to bring people in who have different cultural backgrounds and experiences. Regardless of the focus at the board level, the key has to be focusing on the talent pipeline and ensuring talented people, regardless of background, are filling the spaces ready to progress to the senior roles.”

Another diversity challenge facing global banks in 2015 is that a whole range of different generations are now working together following the eradication of the default retirement age, Sweeney said. “In the coming years, we will experience, for the first time, five generations in the workplace together,” she said. "What’s important for the HR director is reflecting on the culture of the company and identifying what is important for all. Given the multiple generations in the workplace and the increased ageing demographics in many countries, this will have a knock-on effect for employers to ensure they are really thinking of how they support their employees who have caring responsibilities and those who have some form of disability.”

Central role for HR

The HR function has a vital role to play within the banking sector in the coming year, said Rona Beattie, professor of human resource development at GCU London. “The HR function could help banks rebuild their reputation both internally and externally. Some of the banks are working on ethics and values and HR is heavily involved in that.

They also have to look at how they are going to attract young talent to the sector. Banks are trying to educate people in responsible leadership and it’s about using resources in a sustainable way, including people and capital. HR is central to that.”

Karen Higginbottom is a freelance journalist who writes on employment issues for The Guardian and People Management magazine. She has written on a diverse range of topics, from transexuals in the workplace to bullying bosses.

‘First published on Thomson Reuters Accelus on January 15, 2015’

Giving your Career a Spring Clean?

When was the last time you took some time out and think about you? When did you last focus on your strengths, your tendencies, how you make decisions and the ways you differ from and interact with others?

Myers Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) assessment and coaching will help you do just that! The assessment traces the patterns in people's behaviour to their specific personality types. As a result you gain a framework to understand yourself and appreciate the differences in others. Charlotte Sweeney Associates Ltd currently have five opportunities for individuals to take the MBTI online assessment and receive a 90 minute personalised coaching session with an accredited professional to share the feedback and discuss what this means for you and all aspects of your life. This opportunity is limited at the reduced rate of £149 plus VAT. If you are ready to focus on what could make 2015 your best year yet contact to confirm your place.

Sue Ryder Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards 2015

We are delighted to announce that Charlotte Sweeney Associates Ltd are sponsors of the Sue Ryder Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards. Now in it’s 29th year, the aim of the awards is to recognise the significant achievements of women in the Yorkshire Region.

This is your last chance to nominate a Yorkshire Lass who has achieved great things in their career or within their community.

Now in it’s 29th year, the aim of the awards is to recognise the significant achievements of women in the Yorkshire Region. There are a number of award categories, of which, Charlotte Sweeney Associates Ltd is sponsoring ‘The Young Achiever of the Year’ award.

Nominations for the awards close on the 29th April.

To find further information about the awards and how to make a nomination please visit here

Coming soon...

Carers - Caring & Isolation in the Workplace
Traits of EPIC Leaders
General Election & the Diversity Debate
The Power of Diversity - Continuing the Journey

And finally...

Broadcaster and business journalist Penny Haslam recently presented at a TEDx event on ‘The Power of Visibility’. She shares her perspectives on why there are so few women experts on TV and radio, why change on diversity in the workplace is slow and how harnessing the power of visibility for women can create a win-win situation for everyone.

Watch her presentation here

Charlotte led the Diversity Breakfast with professionalism and flair. Her knowledge ensured the content was extremely well researched and positioned perfectly for our audience. This is clearly Charlotte's area of expertise and coupling this with her ability to read her audience makes a perfect combination.”

Margaret Kett, Partner
Human Resources Practice, Tyzack Partners