Employee management

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways (Tips for Managing Office Romance)

July 20, 2017

It’s not surprising that relationships develop in the workplace, since many employees work together for eight or more hours a day, and usually share common interests. In fact, a workplace office romance survey conducted by Vault.com in 2016 reported that half of respondents confessed to having a relationship with a colleague.

Although some employers allow dating in the workplace, many do not have written policies in place regarding the rules on these types of relationships. Employers who choose not to implement policies on this topic may refrain because they want to avoid the spread of gossip, or avoid employees hiding their relationships in response to strict workplace guidelines. In some cases, employers simply do not wish to meddle in their employees’ personal affairs.

However, employers who take a “hands off” approach to office romances may find that they are not prepared if a relationship generates claims of favouritism or sexual harassment. An online survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2013 surveyed 384 HR professionals and employees on the topic of workplace romances. Some highlights of the survey results included:

  • 1 in 4 employees state that they have been involved or are currently involved in an office romance.
  • 54% of organizations do not have a policy that addresses workplace romance.
  • 72% of HR professionals were concerned about retaliation between co-workers after a relationship ends.

There can be benefits to allowing dating in the workplace. Employees who are allowed to date co-workers may be less likely to sneak around behind their manager’s back and hide what they perceive as an illicit affair. These employees tend to feel that their employer trusts them to be responsible enough to manage an office relationship, and this can boost their job satisfaction. Conversely, prohibiting workplace romances entirely could result in job dissatisfaction and damaged morale. If your organization does allow workplace dating, be sure to review your policies with your employees, and discuss how romantic relationships could affect their work and interactions with co-workers.

Download our FREE Office Romance Guide for best practice tips and considerations, and to be prepared and avoid negative repercussions.

Download Now

Editor's note: The article was originally published on July 20th, 2017 and updated on February 13th, 2018.

Sources: Society for Human Resources Management Research Report, 2013 Workplace Romance Poll Findings. Study conducted by SHRM.

Vault, Office Romance Survey 2016

While HRdownloads uses reasonable efforts to maintain this site/blog and its Services in an up-to-date fashion, it does not warrant the completeness, timeliness or accuracy of any information contained on this site/blog or any of its Services, whether in English or French, and may make changes thereto at any time in its sole discretion without notice. All information and Services provided by HRdownloads are provided to members and/or users “as is”, “with all faults,” “as available” and at the sole risk of members and/or users. Our human resources information and recommendations are based on seasoned, best practice field experience and should not be construed as legal advice.