Office romances make for an enticing plot in movies and television programs. However, the real-world situation is just as popular.
In fact, Vault.com did a survey a couple of years ago that showed as many as 59% of people admitted to dating someone they worked with at least once.
Another study completed by CareerBuilder showed that 30% of those romances led to marriage. So, the question many HR managers and business owners may be asking is whether they should allow these relationships or ban them.
Problems with Office Romances
The first issue is with the relationship itself.
When it doesn't work out, it can be awkward for the pair if they have to work closely together. It can also feel uncomfortable for others working around them. This can lead to an overall negative vibe in the department or area.
Another problem is with jealousy and gossip.
Other coworkers may have issues with two people dating. They may fear favoritism, especially if one person has a higher rank than the other one.
An awkward work environment can also occur while the couple are dating and getting along.
How do you maintain a professional attitude when you have a personal relationship with someone? While you might know better than to leave a box of chocolates, bouquets of flowers, or a heart photo pendant on their desk, what about eating lunch together?
What is the perception of the staff when an employee goes out of their way to help their boyfriend or girlfriend when they don't work in the same department? How do you handle public affection and where do you draw the line?
Many couples are much happier at work when they can spend time with the special person in their lives. They are more likely to be loyal and stay long-term; work satisfaction often makes people more productive.
However, if one person becomes upset with the company, it often results in two people leaving. If one of them does stay behind, they are not happy and their quality of work suffers.
Creating an HR Policy
The big issue for HR managers and business owners is how they will deal with office romances.
They can forbid it completely or allow it with guidelines. If they choose to permit the relationships, they must decide when it is appropriate and when it isn't, and what behavior is allowed.
For instance, most companies frown on any type of supervisor/subordinate romance. Others may not allow a romance between two people in the same department.
This becomes a complex issue for HR as they have to create policies to deal with the difficulties that may rise. They have to decide how to deal with complaints from other employees and possibly even customers. They have to create a plan for discipline if policies are not followed.
While office romances can be complicated for the company as well as the couple, they do in fact work out.
Just ask famous couples like the President and Michelle Obama, who met at their law firm. Sometimes work and love can go hand in hand.