Work Is for Lovers: Vault’s 2017 Office Romance Survey Results
A majority (57%) of those surveyed have participated in some kind of office romance. 21% of these office romances were random hookups, 16% led to long-term relationships, and 14% led to ongoing but casual relationships.
According to a recent survey, more than half (57%) of surveyed professionals have participated in some kind of workplace romance. With employees spending a minimum of 8-10 hours at the office each day, it is no surprise that such romantic relationships among coworkers are so pervasive. For this reason, Business Owners and Office Managers must handle these potentially inappropriate, volatile, and/or disruptive circumstances with tact and sensitivity.
What you should do if the love bug bites two of your employees? Here are a few suggestions:
Once a romantic relationship between coworkers has “gone public,” it is time to have a conversation with the couple. There is a clear difference between being intrusive on their privacy (remember: everyone is entitled to their confidentiality) and attempting to understand the nature of the relationship with the purpose of establishing parameters for their behavior. It is important for the couple to acknowledge that their relationship may affect the entire office. For example, coworker dynamics become blurry if the romance involves people in the same department or if a manager and subordinate. More so, pretending a relationship doesn’t exist can backfire if things end badly. In all cases, morale and productivity can be undermined if the relationship is simply not addressed honestly and appropriately. Just as the relationship will have highs and lows, so too will the office experience similar turbulence.
Other things should be on your mind than just the office romance. Still, it is rather important to stay abreast of the relationship in order to minimize any distractions for the couple, their colleagues, and the company as a whole. A “new” relationship, demanding significant time and attention, may reveal disrupted work habits; an “old” relationship may reveal more established levels of comfort in the office. Both situations require you to be informed of the relationship so everyone can effectively manage their work and interact in a professional manner. By staying current on the relationship you will have the opportunity to stop problems before they arise or get too far along.
Having a “written policy” won’t necessarily stop employees from having romantic relationships, however it can protect the business from liability related to claims of harassment and forms of discrimination. Legal counsel should prepare the policy and management should explain it to all employees, not just those in a relationship. Employees should be required to sign the agreement as they would any other company-wide policy. Apropos of the current climate in which sexual harassment claims arise almost daily, as a business owner it is critical you have a clear policy to protect yourself and employees.
Unfortunately when an office romance ends, it may lead to individuals no longer wanting to work in close proximity; some may ask for a transfer and others may leave the company altogether. There is typically not much flexibility in small companies, so the end of an office romance can lead to the loss of a good employee. In this particular situation, love does not conquer all.
For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (516) 935-5641.