Friday, April 17, 2009

Be nice to wifey

I had a couple days away with the wifey and it made me remember how important it is to keep her happy. Rather ... it reminded me of how smart it is for excellent employers to keep their employee's significant others happy. It will help to retain your best folks, and keep them focused and happy!

It was my wife, several years ago, that encouraged me to quit my job at a boutique HR consulting firm. She could tell even better than I, that my work-life balance was heavily tipped to the work side - and that work wasn't always so good. Even though I had worked hard to get the job, and generally speaking liked it, wifey sees a different perspective, she is persuasive, and she has a great deal of power. It wasn't difficult for her to convince me that I wasn't as happy as I could be, and that I wasn't utilizing all my potential.

In a following job (which the wifey helped convince me to do a 1+hour commute), I saw the head of HR send nice packages to the homes of employees. Not only did the employee enjoy it, but so did their spouse and family. It's the spouse, you realize, who suffers when your employee works late ... and has to listen to complaints about this meeting or that project not going just right. Imagine how nice when they also get to partake in a special meal delivery, or gift basket, acknowledging an important anniversary or achievement. In addition to enjoying themselves, they see their loved one's hard work appreciated.

This goes a long way. Whether they admit it or not, it's often the wife, or the husband, or the family calling the shots. They influence your employee - to leave, to by unhappy, to feel unappreciated ..... OR to support them, and foster a satisfied, productive employee.

I can't recall where, but I recently read some advice to 'interview' the spouse when bringing in a new executive for your start-up. Do you get the idea she'll be supportive? Will she quickly get fed up with the long commute? Perhaps she is as infectiously excited about the new business as well?

However you do it, try to go out of your way a bit for the wifey.


  1. Good advice Matt. Very few professionals think about an employee's personal life until it impacts their performance. The two have to be maintained and nurtured to get the maximum effort from the people we work with.

  2. Agreed. This is a perspective that is underappreciated. Good on you for bringing it forward.

  3. To pick up on your point about "that my work-life balance was heavily tipped to the work side - and that work wasn't always so good"...

    We just released a report, and in it we look at work-life conflict, and it seems that men’s work-life conflict has increased significantly from 34% in 1977 to 45% in 2008. Employed fathers who are family-centric or dual-centric (giving equal attention to work and family/personal life) are far less likely to experience overall work-life conflict. And when there's work-life conflict, then everybody suffers from its effects (family, co-workers, employer).