Office romances bloom alongside dating policies

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The workplace seems to be an ideal place to find love, with 41 percent of people having an office romance at some point in their career and 27 percent resulting in marriage, according to new research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).

The Valentine’s Day survey of more than 1000 UK workers and managers found that many employers accept the inevitability of office relationships. 64 percent said they didn’t mind the occurrence of staff romances as long as they remained professional.

Charles Elvin, Chief Executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management, said:

“Our survey shows that workplace romances are inevitable and not as destructive on careers as people may fear. Employers may want to think twice before vetoing love at work, or they risk forcing staff to hide their relationships, creating a culture of secrecy and deceit.

“The key is how employers handle workplace relationships; if organisations and their managers set clear guidance or policies with boundaries, then certain situations can be prevented. It will also help if policies are communicated down from various members – as sometimes the boss is the last to know.”

One in five UK companies now include a dating policy, while a further 25 percent are considering implementing one, according to a study by Monster.co.uk.

The job site surveyed a further 1000 UK employees, finding that one in five (17%) of people who had dated a colleague felt that this created tension with other co-workers and a third (33%) said that office relationships caused disruption within their company.

Of the employers that do have dating polices in place, almost half (49%) think these are overlooked by staff, and 42 percent of employees said that they didn’t know if their company had a policy or what that might consist of.

Andy Sumner, Managing Director of Monster.co.uk, UK and Ireland, said:

“As more employees start dating there is an increase in companies taking action to put policies in place to address what is and isn’t permitted in the workplace. Honesty and transparency are key here and it’s important for employees to take notice of and fully understand what is built into their contracts regarding this sensitive topic.”

The aim of a dating policy is to ensure that employees embarking on a relationship with a colleague understand what the company expects from them and these will differ between organisations; whether it requires the couple to speak to the relevant managers to make them aware of the situation, or being aware that discussing confidential work information is not tolerated.

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