Love in the Workplace
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Love in the Workplace

It is not surprising that office romances are fairly common these days as most people spend at least one third of their time at work and have little time for socializing outside of the office. Many companies have introduced inter-office policies and codes of conduct that aim to prevent dating among employees. Even though office romances are, for the most part, inevitable, they are loaded with financial, social, career, and even emotional risks for both the employees involved and the employer.

In a recent survey, 59 per cent of Canadian respondents said romantic relationships between colleagues occur “from time to time,” and 63 per cent said it’s doesn’t cause a problem in the workplace. However, 37 per cent of Canadians surveyed said office romances interfere with job performance. As well, 21% said they believe one of the two people involved in an office fling should resign their position.

In most cases, relationships between employees pose no danger to an organization. However, there are instances where they are inappropriate and may be harmful to the company and its interest. For instance, it is never a good idea for a manager to be romantically involved with a subordinate. This relationship can raise issues of favouritism and undermine the manager’s credibility with other staff members.

The biggest downside occurs when a relationship between employees breaks apart. In many cases, the employees handle the situation professionally and move on with their respective lives. In other cases, the resulting unpleasantness may require transferring one or both employees to new roles. And, in extreme cases, the emotional stress may lead an employee to file a claim of harassment or lash out and commit an act of violence.

Office romances aren’t all bad though. In fact, they can actually boost morale, productivity and collegiality. However, employees need to understand what they can and cannot do, and they also need to understand how to conduct themselves if they find themselves romantically involved at work. Office romances require mature handling and discretion and employees should never let their feelings or the relationship interfere with their work.

When business and pleasure get intertwined, it can cause trouble on the job. There are no clean breaks in an office romance, and personal lives will almost certainly be exposed to scrutiny and gossip. For the career-driven that could put a damper on professional aspirations. However, there are always exceptions, as many couples have met at work and endured a lasting relationship or even marriage.

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