Office Romance Can Lead to the Altar or to HR

business couple romance - freedigitalLove is all around us today. And not just in the hearts and cupids and balloons that decorate countless offices.

CareerBuilder says there’s a pretty good chance some of your co-workers are dating each other. Four in 10 workers have had — or are having — an office romance, according to the company’s annual survey of 4,216 workers. And 30% of them have married an office mate.

For human resource managers, such news is more heartache than heart throb.

“Relationships between co-workers can, and often do, end in breakups. And these breakups can be nasty,” says Mary Hladio, president of Ember Carriers Leadership Group.  “Worst-case scenario, these breakups lead the rejected partner to file a sexual harassment claim against the employer. Businesses still have to protect themselves and their employees through clearly defined company protocol.”

That’s enough to cause HR managers to lose sleep. When they involve a boss and a subordinate or, worse, a direct report, that’s when things get downright dicey. CareerBuilder’s Valentine’s Day survey says 16% of those who owned up to an office romance reported having an affair with their boss.

“These relationships may spark favoritism charges and evoke concerns about breached confidentiality,” warns Hladio, who told Investor’s Business Daily that many companies discourage office romance generally.

That’s gentle advice compared to what employment attorney Kathleen McKenna told Forbes. A romance involving a boss and a subordinate is “criminally stupid.” If it happens anyway, she says they both should sign a “cupid contract” declaring the relationship is consensual and that the both understand the company’s sexual harassment policy.

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They also should advise HR of the relationship.

How can you tell if workers are involved with each other? Allbusiness offered 15 ways to tell, declaring that if workers avoid meeting each other’s eyes, they never leave work together (or arrive together?), they both start putting in overtime — at the same time — and their vacation and sick days match up, well, they’re probably having an affair.

CareerBuilder also found that employees in the leisure and hospitality industry, leads the top five industries for office romances, coming in higher than the national average. That’s probably not much of a surprise; workers in that industry tend to be younger and work in environments that are more social in nature.

But coming in second and third respectively were IT workers and those in the financial sector. Engineers and accountants. Who would have guessed?

Image courtesy of  stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.

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1 Comment on “Office Romance Can Lead to the Altar or to HR

  1. Thanks John. I met my wife when we were both working on a very short-term assignment after I had just finished a long one. If my preceding assignment had gone a week more or a week less, I never would have met Elizabeth. After 21 years of marriage and two kids, I think it may have worked….

    Happy Heart Day, ‘Cruitaz!

    Keith

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