Over half of workers feel a workplace romance would harm their career

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Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and with it many workers may be considering their options for finding love. As almost everyone working longer hours, starting relationships with colleagues is often less of a taboo, and more of an ‘I do’ – which can be a tricky situation for employers to manage. In order to find out how many workers would date a colleague, and whether they think it could damage their career, the job board Monster carried out a recent global poll – the results of which are released today.

“The implications of dating a coworker are best examined on a case-by-case basis. Thoroughly understanding a company’s policies and culture is imperative,” said Mary Ellen Slayter, Career Advice Expert for Monster. “If you’re interested in pursuing a colleague, treading carefully is always the smart approach. An equally important factor: seniority. Dating between employees at the same company, when either one works for the other or is in a more senior position, can be very controversial and many companies prohibit it.  No one should jeopardize a good job for a quick fling. But, if you develop a very special connection with a coworker, remember that exploring other career options is easy; true love is hard to find.”

The poll reveals that nearly half of respondents globally (46 percent) would consider finding love in the workplace, even though a fifth (19 percent) think it could damage their career. The full results of the global poll are as follows:

Do you think a dating a colleague would harm your career prospects and would you do it?

  • 39% – Yes harmful and I would never date a colleague
  • 19% – Yes harmful, but I would date a colleague anyway
  • 15% – Not harmful, but I would never date a colleague
  • 27% – Not harmful and I would date a colleague

French respondents were the most willing to risk damaging their careers to find love at work with almost half (49 percent) saying they would date a colleague in spite of potential career damage. In contrast, it seems cupid’s arrow is most off target in the US with 62% noting they would never date a colleague. Further results show that Germans are the most likely want to find love at work and not consider it a hindrance to their career progression (38 percent), closely followed by respondents in the Netherlands (36 percent) and the UK (33 percent).

This is all very well for love-struck employees, but for employers these workplace romances are notoriously tricky to manage and can lead to some potentially awkward situations that can hurt productivity and morale. Here are some top general tips to effectively manage these potential issues.

  • Set policy: Having a clear policy on how your business regards dating between colleagues is rule 101. Having clearly defined boundaries ensures everybody knows what is appropriate and what is not. Think about what is best for business, taking employee morale into account.
  • Communicate effectively: Having everybody on the same page is the easiest way to ensure compliance, so how you communicate policy is just as important as the policies themselves.
  • Encourage openness: Policies are typically black and white, but the human heart certainly isn’t, so an open-door approach is best, encouraging employees to talk candidly with HR about workplace relationships that might impact day-to-day work.
  • Discourage inappropriateness: Even if you have a policy which allows workplace relationships in certain circumstances, be clear from the start that while at work, everybody must remain professional. Inappropriate office behaviour, such as public displays of affectionate, should be explicitly prohibited.

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  1. My husband and I started our relationship in the office and what a big scandal that was for colleagues!!!! I was in an unhappy marriage at the time. I got hauled into the director’s office for a “chat” where he bluntly said “I hear you are sharing your bed with one of my crew”. I told him I was working hard for the company and doing my job and I didn’t think it was any of his business what I did in my private life. I had to attend group meetings where my current husband was part of the team and I was always careful to be very professional, even down to what I was wearing so that my mainly male colleagues would not make lewd comments. I am pretty thick skinned but it was all quite unpleasant. There were a lot of smutty comments and remarks from male colleagues which I found ironic since several of them were having affairs with women in our company. We have now been married over 20 years and can laugh about it now!!!

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