If you think office romances aren't happening in your workplace, think again! Despite your best efforts to discourage these office romances, 58% of employees have engaged in a romantic relationship with a colleague.
While only 30% of those ages 18-21 have been romantically involved with a co-worker, the longer you work it appears the more likely you have had a workplace romance; a surprising 72% of those over 50 years old have been romantically involved with a co-worker, according to Vault.com's 2019 Office Romance Survey.
No matter how hard they try, some people just can't seem to help themselves. Only 37% of respondents have intentionally avoided office romances. Here's one of the more interesting responses:
"Every fiber of my being tells me 'do not pursue office romances.' And yet, every time I'm in a situation where I feel there may be a connection, I don't cut it off."
Nearly three out of four people who have participated in an office romance said they would do it again!
"I know it's a bad idea to date co-workers. But these are the people you spend the most time with. If you don't have much of a life, it may be the only place to meet people."
"My relationship has not impacted my work or life in any negative way. I love working with someone I love."
Cupid's Arrow Hits its Target
How do these office romances begin? According to the Vault.com survey:
Power Play? Not Okay!
The issue of "power dynamics" made many respondents uncomfortable, especially if one of the participants was in charge of the other's performance reviews, pay and so forth. According to the survey, over one-third of the respondents disapprove of relationships between co-workers at different levels.
Some good news from the survey: only 13% of respondents claim to have dated a subordinate, the lowest percentage to date from the Vault.com surveys.
Power dynamics really "up the ante" where sexual harassment is concerned. Is a supervisor and subordinate relationship truly consensual or "welcome"—given the fact that a supervisor has the power to fire the employee or ruin his or her career? Remember, employers are held strictly liable for a supervisor's sexual harassment of a subordinate.
Cue the Violins
Consensual relationships between peers can negatively impact the workplace. Most co-worker relationships don't last forever, and when the relationship ends, there are often hard feelings. This can lead to gossip, drama, poor morale, absenteeism, turnover, and lack of productivity. Even worse, one party may keep pursuing the other — turning what was once welcome conduct into an unwelcome work environment. Employers can be liable for co-worker harassment if they knew or should have known of the conduct and fail to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.
What Employers Should Do: