Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Do Happily Married People Make Better Employees?

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2012 Apr 19

Posted by Jim_Daly Apr 18, 2012




This past Friday's Wall Street Journal highlighted a new hiring practice for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. When evaluating the fit of a free agent, team officials don't just spend time with the player. They also invite and interview the particular player's wife, assuming he's married. As explained in the Journal:

Shahid Khan, the Jaguars' new owner, who made his fortune in auto-parts manufacturing, said he had the idea because he tries to meet all of the spouses of his employees. He said he has retreats in which his employees are encouraged to bring their spouses. Khan figured some of the things needed to be a solid player — like staying after practice or putting in extra work—require a stable home environment. The team's new coach, Mike Mularkey, spoke with Smith about the importance of a good family life during his interview process and just like that, a new NFL personnel theory was born.

We've all heard the adage "happy wife, happy life," and this practice would certainly appear to be born of such a philosophy. What's so interesting, of course, is that a practice like this confirms just how important the family is to every sphere of life. In many ways, it's impossible to separate the personal from the professional. We're all a product of the lives that touch ours. A difficult or disruptive home life will inevitably be felt at work -- even very subtly. Good or bad, we all bring our frustrations or joys into the workplace, some more visibly than others.

Within my own leadership role here at Focus, I can attest to just how crucial it is during the recruitment process to take the entire family's welfare into consideration. For example, when I joined the ministry 22 years ago, the person hiring me was keenly interested in Jean's perspective and commitment to the mission. I was grateful for their interest in her opinion.

Ironically, state labor laws prohibit employers from inquiring specifically about a prospective employee's family life. And while I can understand the rationale behind such limitations, I do wonder if such a practice, in many cases, is counterproductive and not in the best interest of both employer and employees.

Does a happily married person make for a better employee than someone who is mired in marital misery? What do you think about the Jaguars' practice?

Speaking personally, it would be impossible for me to overstate the positive impact and influence that Jean has had on my professional life. She’s helped and encouraged me in countless ways, from providing helpful feedback to bringing out the best in me in various situations.

Do you have a similar story?

When it comes to work life, do you encourage your spouse? If so, how do you go about doing so?

Or are you the beneficiary? Does he or she encourage you? I would invite you to pay public tribute to them in this space for the contribution they’ve made in your life. After all, in the words of the apostle Paul, we’re to “encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13).

Here’s your chance to do just that.

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