Considering the amount of time most people spend at their jobs, it’s no wonder romantic relationships are a common thing. After all, the workplace provides an environment where everyone shares at least one important area of common ground. When employees see each other on a daily basis, romantic relationships are bound to happen. In fact, according to Vault’s Office Romance Survey conducted in 2017, nearly half of those surveyed admitted to having had a workplace romance. While many of those were simply casual and not serious, about 16% said they developed a long-term relationship and 10% said they met their spouse at the office. This begs the question: should workplace romances be discouraged or permitted? Here we will examine the good, the bad, and the ugly of interoffice romances.
It’s Not Always a Bad Thing
These days, people spend the majority of their time at work which makes the likelihood of starting an office romance pretty high. When you work with someone every day, you get to know them on a more personal level and you get a feel for their true personality. Also, when two people work together they understand the pressures of each other’s job. This can be somewhat of a good thing, in that two people who work together are going to feel more comfortable starting a relationship than maybe a complete stranger that you met online or through a friend. In some cases, interoffice romance has also led to higher productivity because the employees enjoyed coming to work and they collaborated well with each other. When two people are able to work and share ideas with each other, it could end up being a force for good.
It Can Lend Itself to Trouble
While dating a co-worker is not always a bad thing, the reality is that there are a lot of cons. The biggest issue arises when the relationship doesn’t work out and you are forced to work with your ex every day. This type of situation can lead to poor work performance, increased absenteeism, workplace drama, and even one of the employees choosing to quit. In addition, workplace romances rarely stay between the two people involved. It is likely to become a source of gossip around the office and can cause a distraction in the workplace. Managers might also notice that when two employees are dating, they end up taking longer lunches together or looking for ways to sneak off to be alone. This can seriously affect their job performance and quickly start to irritate co-workers who take notice of the less than professional behavior.
Romance Policies in the Workplace
Due to the increased risk of affecting job performance and creating an uncomfortable working environment for others, many companies choose to put a romance policy in place for their employees. Oftentimes companies forbid supervisor-subordinate relationships because of the potential conflict and legal repercussions that may arise. In the case of same-level relationships, companies might also choose to ban relationships to reduce the likelihood of personal conflicts or personal issues infiltrating the work environment. In some instances, a workplace relationship might be permitted if one of the parties works in a different department or is willing to transfer. In any case, it is wise for companies to have a policy in place regarding workplace relationships. This policy should include which kinds of relationships are acceptable and which ones are discouraged. The policy might also require that employees notify HR of their relationship so they can move the employee to a new department if needed.
While it is not ideal for companies to ban all workplace relationships, there should be a clear policy in place so that employees are well aware of the rules and regulations for dating someone in the workplace. The policy should act as a guide for creating a harmonious, ethical, and professional work environment.