Can Spouse working together, actually work?

Can Spouse working together, actually work?

The Rise of Couple Hiring trend in India.

The IT sectors are coming up with the spousal hiring policies, wherein the person can find the partner within the same organization to get married to, through the matrimonial bulletins or groups in the firm, like employees can upload their profiles and can find their life partners within the same company. Sounds so cool, right?

The phenomenon of couples working in the same organization is gaining ground as the couple working together will be able to devote more time to their relationship, and to the organization and would be a savior in planning up their day and holidays. Adding to it, saving up on the fuel.

Imagine a couple driving together to work and meeting over lunch every day, planning family outings which are a smooth affair as both share the same holiday calendar. Despite working in different towers of the same building, the couple is totally clued in on each other’s daily routine. More couples are being seen being a part of 24×7 partners who share space at home and office too, making their bond stronger.  In the same breath, many individuals feel that companies should ban couples from working in the same organization. Well, the debate is always on!

Says Sheetal Shinde, HR professional in a software organization in Pune.”I have seen couples working in the same organization without any clashes or discomfort whatsoever! They work accordingly without interfering in each other’s work and respect either’s decisions as well. Since one spends more or long hours at work, it could work as a bonus. It depends on the organization but more than that it depends on the maturity level of the couples as to how they balance their personal & professional life. With more companies waking up to the work-life balance needs of their employees, would add to a sense of belonging and such couple-friendly measures are increasingly on offer. I have also come across some instances where married couples have been asked to search for other positions, usually, the one who is most valued by the company is asked to stay, and the other asked to look for an alternate option.

Many couples have met each other at work.

I know of a couple who worked together on several projects for about four-five years and the only person who knew that they were together was me- the HR manager, that too after they told me of a change in address when they moved in together. All their co-workers didn’t find out that they were together until they invited a few to their wedding. Few couples don’t acknowledge each other’s presence in the office and for them, even office lunches are a strict no-no, to the extent of not sitting next to each other in the office cab.

Honestly, it’s not hard to act like normal while dating a co-worker, especially if you have a healthy functional relationship. It’s sort of like an added variable in some cases. Perhaps it works for some & it doesn’t work for others, depending on unpredictable factors. Sometimes some personal problems can be seen in the workplace and this can affect the company and the team performance. Especially, if the couple is dating, take time out from work often, there is distraction and focus is shifted from work to the relationship. The couple might look for opportunities to meet and talk often. If the office environment would end up having too many couples like this, it is not an ideal company culture with such drastic changes. Ultimately, the question is how you bond with the company culture, besides also how your relationship is being handled.”

Another administrative in-charge with American express bank, Aarti Shetty says, “If the couple is both in the same function/department, issues like when promotions occur, with one having to report to the other, it could cause crisis situations in the relationship. And further on, the ego issues or disputes may spill into the home front also, making life pretty uncomfortable; even if they are in different functional areas, once again if one is on a more senior footing, the same discomforts arise. Also, sometimes colleagues resent the situation, feeling that the most senior individual is more lenient when the spouse is involved, particularly if they are both in the same function/dept.

There are times when one is asked to transfer to a sister concern in the same city, without affecting job function or seniority. This is a good strategy but very few companies are in a position to follow this. Perhaps they are scared of any drama or tension in case of a fight or break up.

If the couple has a fight and stops speaking to each other, how’s that going to play out at work, where you might need to interact with each other?

If the girlfriend doesn’t get along with her boss, is that going to impact the relationship with that boss?  Will the two be able to work on projects together professionally or will any act of theirs make people/colleagues uncomfortable? If she gets fired or treated in an unfair way is that really not going to have an impact. It’s easy to understand why an employer would prefer to just not deal with it at all. A comfortable balance has to be achieved and giving each other space at work is the golden rule that one must follow religiously.”

Most companies can take care of such couple cases with reimbursements such as leave travel and medical reimbursements are concerned; if leave travel covers children and dependent parents as well, then the more senior spouse, or the husband, can cover himself and the children and his own dependent parents, and the wife can cover herself and her own dependent parents. This prevents reimbursement covers from being doubled. Also, if both entitled to company housing and company cars, then only one house is provided, and one car, unless hours of work and usage on company work makes it essential to have separate cars. The couple cannot make excess claims and companies can benefit in more ways than one. Some HR’s attribute this trend to Western practices, besides a step to retain talent or encourage couple work life through referral policy. The company’s main focus is more on talent retention.

Says Rohit Reddy, a software professional with Infosys, “For the past couple of years myself and my wife have been working in the same building, we are on different floors and projects. We also have different sets of friends in office. We have kept our personal and professional lives apart. We do not have any secret meetings or frequent lunches together. The pros are more than the cons if you are mature and sensible, life can be less complicated.  We have to ensure that we are not in the same project or on reporting relations. In my firm couples are located in the same area. We have a lovely office campus with the gym, coffee place, varied cafeterias, basketball ground, yoga, dance or music room etc. My wife and I come here after work and indulge in fitness or hobbies and make the most of our work life. Else if my wife were not a part of the organization, she surely would have complained of spending extra time at work/project and thereafter the more hours pursuing my hobby etc, but now we do it together happily. She understands my deadlines, work pressure and the need to have ‘me-time’ indulgences. In fact, our friends in the organization are also different, so we mingle once in awhile with each other’s colleagues and give space at the same. If I get late, my wife waits for me while attending a hobby class or gymming and vice versa, we surely wait for each other or I send her with a colleague. If we are late, our housemaid cooks our dinner and makes our beds so we can get home to peace.

Couples with kids can keep their kids with in-laws, crèche or even get them to work on working weekends. A double bonus being together literally 24-7 with tremendous moral support and strike the apt balance in the domestic front. We seek advice from each other in money matters, office politics or in solving problems and we avoid discussing too much of appraisals or department policies at home. If we have an important discussion, we can reach out to each other quickly using the hotline, or catch up for a few minutes or perhaps solve on our way back home. You see commuting together is a real blessing! We mostly maintain a neutral policy as much as our company maintains. So there is lesser room for petty fights!”

The only flipsides we see are clearly that if there is a recession, a salary cut in the company would mean a double blow as both would be affected but of course, a hike would mean a double treat. Also sometimes there would be more work friends than relatives or outside friends.

Well, give it a shot we say. Clearly, too much of familiarity not always leads to contempt!

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