There are definitely days when managing employees feels a lot like parenting. And times when training your new hire seems comparable to training your frisky new puppy. 

But does your relationship with your employer mimic your relationship with your significant other?

More than you might think.

Work really does imitate life

Think your home life and your work life are two totally different things? Not necessarily.

Both aspects of your life revolve around agreements and relationships that were entered into willingly. Excitedly, even. But over time, as the novelty wears off, these relationships can leave you feeling confused, unhappy, disengaged, or disillusioned. You may even start to wonder if you made the right choice, or if you should consider leaving.

If you Google top relationship stressors, you’ll find a few key issues that keep rising to the top. Things like communication, money, and feeling underappreciated.

On the other hand, if you Google common workplace complaints, top concerns that come up are things like communication, money, and feeling underappreciated.

Uh oh.

Now that we know we all have eerily similar needs in our work and personal lives, let’s examine the things people are looking for in their various relationships and how we as employers, employees, and partners can help keep the love alive.

Complaint # 1: Communication

Or lack of it.

According to one employee survey, 91% of respondents thought their managers lacked basic communication skills. And according to most marriage counselors, well…  You get the picture.

When communication breaks down, trust breaks down. And so do relationships. Make communication a constant priority. Keep the lines of communication open and provide more information rather than less. Keeping people in the loop makes them feel not just informed, but important.

Communication at work (and at home) can be stressful. Here are some tips to make sure your constructive conversation doesn’t turn into a disastrous disagreement.

Set it up – Never just launch into a sensitive conversation. Schedule it ahead of time or, at the very least, ask if this is a good time to talk.

Be calm – Communicating when emotions are high can cause discussions (and people) to spin out of control. It’s best to bring up topics in a neutral environment, and not in the heat of the moment.

Choose your words carefully – Yes, sticks and stones can hurt you. But so can words. And once they’re out there, they can’t be put back. No matter who you’re dealing with, always try to communicate in a way that is honest, but fair and kind. All too often, we fall into the trap of being diplomatic at work, then going home and letting our treasured partners and family members have it.

Good communication won’t fix everything, but let’s be real. It can fix a whole heck of a lot. The better you get at it, the better all of your relationships will be.

Complaint #2: Money

It’s no secret that couples fight about money. Financial strain puts huge pressure on individuals and families. And many people have different views regarding how money should be spent and how much is enough.

The same is true at work. Your boss may think you make plenty of money, especially considering how much the company spends on payroll each month. Meanwhile, you may feel like you’re not being adequately compensated based on your job description, hours worked, or what your colleagues are making. More often than not, each person is looking at finances from a completely different point of reference.

Once again, communication is very important here. If you’re an employer, do your research. Are you paying the going rate? What is the cost of living in your area? Are your salary ranges attracting quality candidates? If you’re not giving out raises, explain why. And if you are giving out raises, explain why. Your team has no idea where you’re coming from unless you tell them.

As an employee, you need to do your research as well. Is your salary in line with averages in your area, the industry and your level of experience? Are there other job perks you may not be factoring in, such as paid time off, a flexible schedule, and employee benefits?

Money is often a deal-breaker, for both marriages and employment relationships. Getting to the root of the problem isn’t always easy, but ignoring it will only make matters worse. Talk about money early and often, during the recruitment (or dating) phase, and after you’re employed (or hitched).

Complaint #3 Feeling Underappreciated

Feeling underappreciated is a top reason people stray from their relationships— and leave their jobs. When appreciation is low, conflict is high. But when people feel appreciated, they are much more willing to be flexible and give back.

Appreciation doesn’t need to be fancy, complicated, or public. It can be as easy as saying thank you. Or asking how you can be supportive. Or doing something nice in return.

Beware of taking employees for granted. Too many managers reward top performing employees by simply adding more to their plates. This can happen at home as well. Over time, the accolades stop and the expectations rise. Before you know it, you’ve gone from “Thanks for doing that!” to “Why isn’t this done already?”

Instead of increasing your demands, try increasing the incentives. Did your team come through on a big project deadline? Give them an afternoon off. Have a partner who’s working late? Pop that pizza in the oven yourself. And open the wine while you’re at it.

A little recognition goes a long way toward making people feel happy and engaged. And happy, engaged employees (and significant others) tend to stick around— not because they have to, but because they want to.

And isn’t that really what we’re all looking for?

Photo by Voyagerix

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