The workplace is to romance as mold is to penicillin. Romance grows in the workplace, penicillin grows on mold!
Assuming employees work eight hours per day with a one hour lunch, that’s a total of 45 hours over a five-day workweek spent in the work environment. Also assuming they sleep eight hours per night for a total of 56 hours per week, means that there are only 67 hours left during the week for them to pursue other activities. So, not even considering commuting time and after-work business activities, the average employee spends over 40 percent of his or her awake hours at work.
Taking those hours into account, it’s not surprising that many employees find a romantic connection at work. Plus, unlike meeting new people via Internet dating sites, blind dates, visits to a local bar, or social gatherings, working people have the time to become acquainted and comfortable with interesting coworkers before a relationship becomes romantic.
Although workplace romances may spell trouble for employers, only a small percentage (13 percent according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey) of employers have in place a formal workplace romance policy. These policies generally contain one or more of the following prohibitions:
- A total ban on employee romantic fraternization.
- A ban on employee/client/customer romantic fraternization.
- A ban on romantic relationships involving a supervisor and a subordinate.
- A ban on romantic relationships between members of the same department, team, or crew.
Regardless of company policy, no management edict aimed at curbing this very basic human activity will probably ever succeed.
Workplace Romance Participant Problems
Workplace romantic relationships may start well, but if they eventually head south, the person hoping to end the relationship can’t just say, “I don’t want to see you anymore!” Because he or she will, as long as the two parties remain employed by the same organization.
On a more serious note, the person on the losing end of the relationship may harass, threaten, stalk, or otherwise intimidate the person trying to end the relationship. If that activity results in a complaint of sexual harassment, the complaint must be thoroughly investigated by management and appropriate discipline administered…
Illicit Workplace Romances
While workplace romantic relationships between unmarried individuals present employers and participants with several challenges, the biggest problem is encountered when one or both of the parties of the workplace romantic relationship are married or committed to someone else…
Realistically, the most common illicit workplace romantic relationship involves male supervisors and female subordinates. Employers and employees must recognize the potential damage these relationships may cause the employing organization and the careers of the parties involved in the illicit relationship.