Long hours at work and increased socialization as a workplace expectation may have lead to an increase in romance in the workplace reports several recent studies. The flip side is that while employee may be finding love at work they are also concerned about the impact to their careers.
Vault.com reports that 59 percent of 2,083 respondents to recent survey had dated a colleague. Slightly more than one-fourth dated a subordinate, and 18 percent dated their supervisor. A Career Builder survey reports that more than one-third of 3,910 full-time U.S. employees have made a love connection in the workplace and nearly two-thirds are not keeping secret a once-taboo type of relationship.
The Vault.com survey also found that thirty-eight percent thought a co-worker gained a professional advantage because of a romantic relationship with a supervisor or co-worker, and 31 percent were uncomfortable with a co-worker’s office romance. The Vault.com respondents indicated the following behaviors as not acceptable for workplace relationships:
•Dating someone in the same department (29 percent).
•Dating someone who is working on a project with you (29 percent).
•Dating someone you work with who is from a different company (22 percent).
Eleven percent thought a workplace romance is never acceptable.
So can Cupid’s arrow kill your career and is it worth it? It depends on which survey you read. Sixty-five percent of workers in the Vault.com survey said the economy was not a factor in pursuing a workplace liaison. However, 70 percent of 423 registered Monster users think that dating a co-worker openly could jeopardize job security or advancement, according to a survey in the U.S. for Spherion Staffing Services, a division of SFN Group Inc. Only one-third of those surveyed in 2008 were hesitant to start an office romance.
John Heins, senior vice president and chief HR officer at SFN Group acknowledged that many companies do not have clear policies or workers are not aware of them. 36 percent of the respondents to the Monster survey work at companies without such a policy; 43 percent don’t know if their company has a policy. “If office policies aren’t clearly communicated or don’t exist at all, people can’t measure the potential consequences of how an office romance will be perceived or handled by the company,” Heins said.
Employers should have a clearly stated and non discriminatory policy for office relationship. The policy should eliminate any cause for possible harassment or discrimination lawsuits (employees and mangers cannot date if there is a reporting relationship for example). Have an attorney review the policy and have all employees read and acknowledge it.
Employees should endeavor to keep all workplace interactions (even with your sweetie) at the highest level of professionalism. Your goal is that know that no one knows that you are even dating by your behavior. However in today’s world you should also limit office gossip by informing co-workers and manager prior to status updates on social media sites.
Join the conversation: What do you think about romance in the workplace?
SHRM Online Newsletter, 2/11/2010, Every Day is Valentine’s Day for Some Workers,
www.Vault .com 2/10/2011 http://www.vault.com/wps/portal/usa/vcm/detail/Career-Advice/Office-Romance/2011-Office-Romance-Survey-Results?id=53933&filter_type=0&filter_id=0
www. Career Builder. com,2/10/2011 http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?id=pr619&sd=2/10/2011&ed=12/31/2011&siteid=cbpr&sc_cmp1=cb_pr619_
www. shperion.com, 2/11/2011 http://spherion.mediaroom.com/pressroom/index.php?s=43&item=1034