Why seven of 10 Kenyans have work spouses

By Irene Githinji On Tue, 11 Feb, 2020 10:41 | 2 mins read
work spouses
Milele FM reporters Nancy Mweu and Douglas Omare pose for a photo to demonstrate an hypothetical ‘work spouse’. This photograph does not in any way imply that Ms. Mweu and Mr. Omare are ‘work spouses’. PHOTO | K24 DIGITAL

At least seven out of 10 Kenyans have or have had a “work spouse” who they turn to for support and advice on work and personal issues, a new survey shows.

The study commissioned by Human Resources Consultancy firm, Corporate Staffing Services, defined a work spouse, as a colleague of the opposite gender with whom one has a strong platonic friendship that meets an individual’s emotional needs in the workplace.

“Work spouses make employees feel safe and supported because they have someone to bounce their ideas off without feeling shy. They also help them get more work done faster because they work more seamlessly rather than if either of them had to work with someone less in synch with them.

However, they could harm work productivity and lead to hurt feelings, divisiveness, tarnished reputations, and even attrition if employees feel they are in an unhealthy work environment,” said Corporate Staffing Services managing partner Perminus Wainaina.

Of those who have had or are currently in a work spouse relationship, 61.1 percent said they are married, 13.8 percent are in a romantic relationship, 24.3 percent are single while 0.8 percent are divorced or widowed.

Slightly more than half at 52.2 percent have been in work spouse relationships for between 1 to 4 years, 37.8 percent have been for less than one year while 10 percent have been on a work spouse relationship for over five years.

Releasing the findings of the survey yesterday, Wainaina said the most talked about topic of discussion amongst work spouses is workload and tasks at 60 percent.

Other topics include home issues, current affairs and news.

Stay in touch

However, he said about 41 percent of the work spouses like to stay in touch even beyond the office hours while slightly more than half, 53.8 percent, either have kept their work spouse partners as a secret or are single and they do not have a ‘significant other’ in their lives at the moment.

At least 66.5 percent of the respondents said they have had their work spouse influence their career decision while another 78.7 percent would continue with their work spouse relationships even if the work spouse left the workplace or organization

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