We spend more of our waking day at work than anywhere else. Throughout our careers, we come across many new faces and form strong connections with those we work with.
Spending so much time with the same people leads us to build strong friendships and for some, more than that. Office supply company Viking has conducted research to find out how common romance in the workplace is and what effect it has on those who have been involved with someone at their office.
Is Office Romance Becoming More Popular?
From a single kiss to marriage, 5,000 workers across Europe were quizzed on their experience of office romance. In the UK, over two-thirds (68%) said they have been involved in an office romance. This shows how common it is in the workplace.
Of the 68% who said they have experienced office romance, 20% were lucky enough to say it ended in marriage or a civil partnership. With so many people finding that someone special in the office, it’s important employers address this to ensure the best outcome for employees and the business.
Viking’s research shows a rise in office romance among the younger generation. 24% of 25 to 34-year-old employees said they have had or are in a long-term relationship with a colleague. That’s compared to 12% of over 65s. Over half (53%) of the same age group also said they would consider a romantic relationship with a colleague in the future. This makes it even more important that businesses know how to deal with office romance.
The Effects of Office Romance In the Workplace
To shine some light on the effects office romance can have on employees during work hours, Viking questioned those who had dated a colleague about how this impacted office life.
There were some positive responses. However, those who have been in a relationship in the workplace voiced mainly negative opinions on how they felt the relationship affected their time at work.
A full list of the positive and negative effects of romance on workers is included below:
Increases productivity & creativity – 11%
Decreases productivity & creativity – 37%
Reduces stress levels – 17%
Increases stress levels – 21%
Positive impact on wellbeing – 22%
Negative impact on wellbeing – 20%
Boosts work motivation – 12%
Reduces work motivation – 7%
Improves focus – 5%
Is distracting – 26%
Positive effect on your career – 6%
Negative effect on your career – 16%
As you can see, people had different opinions on whether office relationships have a positive or negative effect on those involved.
But the two most popular responses were that office romance decreases productivity (37%) and can be distracting (24%).
How to Deal With Office Romance
To limit any negative effects on the workplace from office romances, below are some guidelines managers and HR departments can follow.
Train Management on Office Romance
It can be as simple as creating an environment where employees are comfortable openly discussing office romance.
42% of UK workers said the worst thing about their relationship with a colleague was being the subject of gossip. A further third (33%) felt they needed to keep it from HR.
If employees are familiar with office romance and feel confident approaching their peers or managers to discuss their relationship, there is less risk of it being either a secret or a subject of gossip.
To help encourage an environment where business can operate as usual around the natural social relationships formed between colleagues, providing training to managers and HR on office romance is advisable.
Relationships are likely to be stressful when it influences employee’s ability to do their job. If managers are aware and have the correct training, then they can help employees remain professional and leave the personal things at home.
As shown by Viking’s study, relationships can improve well-being and boost motivation. It’s important for employers to ensure they don’t decrease productivity and cause distractions.
Introduce a Romance Policy
A vital part of communicating when it comes to office romance is having a policy that clarifies the companies’ attitudes toward internal relationships. As mentioned before, it wouldn’t benefit employees or the business to forbid employees from engaging in relationships.
However, setting out a romance policy can help protect the business against potential HR issues. It can also help outline the conduct expected from those in a relationship.
This is something that needs addressing by companies around the UK as just 33% of employees are aware of their employer’s policy on office romance. If employees understand how they’re expected to behave, it will stop their relationship from impacting their work life and those around them.
Without a policy, behavior in the office when involved in a relationship is left to the judgment of employees. This could lead to distractions and unwanted arguments. The differing opinions on what’s acceptable could cause friction between employees.
A fair office romance policy is the obvious solution. It’s down to you to include what you feel will best benefit the business.
Keep Your Door Open
Office romance can harm employees’ ability to do their job. This is why it’s important that it doesn’t slide under the carpet.
Giving time to employees who want to discuss confidential subjects is important. It gives you a clear understanding of the happenings in your team. Turning a blind eye won’t solve anything. Relationships can turn sour and you should be on the lookout to protect your employees and the business.
An office romance that isn’t going so well is far more likely to lead to the negative impacts highlighted earlier on. Showing you understand and doing what you can to support employees if needed will build trust and help maintain productivity.
This handy guide on how to deal with office romance will help you keep your employees happy while taking care of your business’ interest. People spend more time at work than anywhere else and see no one more than their co-workers.
Therefore, romance is expected in the workplace. Finding ways to increase the positives and decrease the negatives caused is the secret to success for businesses around the UK.
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Author: Mark Wiggins
Mark Wiggins is a writer based in Leeds, England. Having spent years working in people management, he now specialises in writing about a whole manner of subjects relating to the modern workplace and staff motivation.