Love in the Office
It’s Valentine’s Day and romance is in the air ... and in the workplace. According to Vault.com’s annual Office Romance Survey, 59 percent of survey respondents said they participated in some form of office romance at some point during their career.
Employers can take action to try and keep office romance from interfering with business by creating and enforcing workplace policies and understanding the risks of employee fraternization.
“Good economy or bad economy, we spend more than half of our day at work. And those same colleagues are often invited to socialize after work, creating opportunities to blur from professional to personal,” said Jason Levin, a career expert at Vault.com. “Whether that’s OK or not depends on the people involved. Your reputation in and out of the office could be in serious jeopardy depending on how each party handles the end of the relationship. Those involved need to go into this type of relationship with both “eyes open,” knowing the risks and having a plan to deal with an office romance if it goes sour.”
Respondents discussed their office romance – the outcome, the impact and whether they would enter into a relationship with a co-worker – and details about workplace trysts, cheating co-workers, supervisor-subordinate relationships and the controversy around whether office romances created unfair favoritism.
The survey asked various questions of the respondents, including:
Have you ever participated in an office romance?
No - 41 percent
Yes - 59 percent
If so, what type(s)? Respondents could pick more than one answer to this question.
Random office hookup - 28 percent
Ongoing but casual relationship - 29 percent
Long-term, serious relationship - 24 percent
I met my spouse/partner at work - 15 percent
Other - 3 percent
Based on your previous experience in an office romance, would you participate in one again?
Yes - 63 percent
No - 37 percent
Does your company have a policy regarding intra-office relationships?
Not sure - 41 percent
No - 36 percent
Yes - 22 percent
Vault conducted its Office Romance Survey in January 2011. The full survey includes responses from 2,083 employees representing various industries across the United States, split almost equally among gender and age lines, although slightly skewed toward 25-30 year olds.
Some of the risks in office relationships include the potential for harassment claims and fairness issues if the relationship involves supervisors and subordinates. It's important to comply with AB 1825’s training rules for supervisors, which requires 2-hour harassment training for supervisors every two years. CalChamber offers harassment training courses for both supervisors and employees.
CalChamber members can ask employees who engage in consensual workplace relationships to sign a Consensual Relationship Agreement to ensure all policies are reviewed and the company is advised of the relationship.
Not a CalChamber member? Test-drive HRCalifornia with a 15-day Free Trial.