H+W teams — Can they work well in a corporate setting?

Many companies have begun to encourage husband-and-wife teams to work together. This trend has gained popularity across various industries and is often seen as a way to increase productivity, teamwork and job satisfaction.

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Earlier companies were wary of having married couples working under the same roof. The general notion was that husband-and-wife teams aka H+W teams led to unnecessary complications, such as conflict of interest, lack of professionalism, and the risk of personal issues spilling over into the workplace. However, in recent years, there has been a positive change in the attitude towards H+W teams. In fact, many companies now actively encourage husband-and-wife teams, as they can improve productivity.

P. Dwarakanath, former non-executive chairman, GSK, who has been associated with well-established and older companies, talks from his personal experience with this issue. He believes that as long as certain guidelines are in place, H+W teams can benefit both the organisation and the employees.

“I believe that productivity and morale can increase, and it can be beneficial for couples who may have trouble finding work in the same location. However, there should be no direct conflict of interest or bias in decision-making, particularly in sensitive areas such as HR,”

P. Dwarakanath, former non-executive chairman, GSK

“I believe that productivity and morale can increase, and it can be beneficial for couples who may have trouble finding work in the same location. However, there should be no direct conflict of interest or bias in decision-making, particularly in sensitive areas such as HR,” he cautions.

He further suggests avoiding a hierarchical relationship between spouses in the workplace and maintaining ethical standards. He feels, “Organisations should embrace the current trend of flexibility and progress, while ensuring that core principles are followed.”

Of course, there are still potential downsides to having H+W teams, such as the risk of personal issues affecting work, the potential for conflicts of interest, and the risk of burnout if both partners are working long hours. However, many companies have found that the benefits outweigh the risks. Therefore, they have developed policies and procedures to manage these risks and ensure that H+W teams can work together effectively and professionally.

Uma Rao, CHRO, Granules, recalls how in the past, organisations had a policy to avoid hiring married couples due to potential conflicts of interest and favouritism. She notes the way things have changed now, with many companies encouraging the hiring of H+W teams. “One reason for this is that many couples today are managing their families on their own without much support, and having both spouses working together in the same organisation can bring a sense of peace of mind and help them focus better on their work,” observes Rao.

She also points out that when both spouses work for the same company, it can help control attrition, because it takes more than just a small setback to make them leave the company. This is because, “They travel together, enjoy the same vacation and holiday time, and share the same work schedule, which makes their lives more predictable and manageable,” enunciates Rao.

According to her, this can also lead to better work-life balance and productivity, which benefit both the employees and the organisation.

“As long as there is no direct conflict of interest or bias in the hiring process and decision-making, and the employees follow ethical standards and maintain confidentiality, there are many advantages to having husband-and-wife teams in the same organisation,”

Uma Rao, CHRO, Granules

Here are the advantages of having H+W teams in an organisation:

Increased productivity

This is one of the primary reasons why companies encourage H+W teams. When couples work together, they have a greater understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which can be utilised to enhance performance.

They are also more likely to be familiar with each other’s work styles and habits, which can help them collaborate more efficiently. With a shared goal in mind, the H+W teams can work together more effectively and make faster progress.

Better communication

Husband-and-wife teams tend to communicate better. Since they have a personal relationship outside of work, they are often more comfortable with each other and have a deeper understanding of each other’s communication styles.

This can lead to more open and honest communication, which is essential for effective collaboration in the workplace. When communication is smooth and effective, there is less room for misunderstandings and conflicts, which can lead to improved productivity and job satisfaction.

Improved teamwork

Husband-wife teams are characterised by better teamwork. After all, husbands and wives are used to working together and collaborating on various projects outside of work. This can translate to a better working relationship within the office. They are more likely to share knowledge, ideas and feedback with each other, which can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving. The shared experience of working together also helps to build trust and strengthen their relationship, which can positively impact their work.

Greater job satisfaction

Working with a spouse can be a positive experience, and this can lead to greater job satisfaction. When couples work together, they have the opportunity to support each other in both their personal and professional lives. This can lead to a more fulfilling work-life balance and greater job satisfaction. They also have the benefit of being able to share in each other’s successes and accomplishments, which can provide motivation and a sense of fulfilment.

“While it is possible for spouses to work in the same organisation, it is important to ensure proper protocols are in place to maintain a healthy and productive work environment.”

Tanaya Mishra, VP and head of HR, Endo International

Tanaya Mishra, VP and head of HR, Endo International, however, believes that many people disapprove of spouses working for the same company due to the risk of conflicting interests and the blurring of professional and personal boundaries.

“Husbands and wives working in the same team can impact the accuracy of checks and balances in the workplace and create a negative impression for customers. While there may be no issue with the couple themselves, it is important to establish clear reporting relationships to avoid any perception of favouritism or weakness,” warns Mishra.

She further adds, “Ultimately, it is natural for spouses to prioritise each other, which can affect their work dynamics and even compromise their professional integrity. Therefore, while it is possible for spouses to work in the same organisation, it is important to ensure proper protocols are in place to maintain a healthy and productive work environment.”

“As long as there is no direct conflict of interest or bias in the hiring process and decision-making, and the employees follow ethical standards and maintain confidentiality, there are many advantages to having husband-and-wife teams in the same organisation,” admits Rao.

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