Romance Rocks The Office

SOME EMPLOYERS OUT TO NIP OFFICE ROMANCES IN THE BUD

The approach of Valentine’s Day may have many human resource managers on the lookout for any evidence of budding or ongoing romances between co-workers or, even worse, between a worker and supervisor. With some surveys indicating that as many as 60 percent of co-workers, casually dating, hooking up and/or finding love in the workplace, it is an issue that keeps many human resource executives up at night. “Office romances are fraught with pitfalls that can impact workplace harmony, productivity, more and, in some cases, the bottom line if they end badly and a lawsuit is filed,” noted workplace authority John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Despite the pitfalls, 35 percent of employers in a 2007 Challenger survey had no formal policy regarding romance between co-workers. The survey revealed that while many companies discourage such relations, others simply maintain a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The growth of social media and networking sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, are helping co-workers find each other and interact under-the-radar. A host of new social apps specifically designed to facilitate romance or more casual “hook-ups” between friends, work colleagues, or even married people, could create even more challenges for human resources professionals trying to keep a lid on workplace romance.

Should employers try to prevent workplace romance? Is there an upside to allowing co-workers to be romantically involved? What guidelines should romantically-involved co-workers follow to prevent any negative impact on the workplace?

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