HR Management & Compliance

Unhappy Valentine’s Day? Workplace Romances at a 10-Year Low

Is the current climate around sexual harassment driving down the number of workers dating coworkers? Maybe. According to CareerBuilder’s Annual Valentine’s Day survey conducted by The Harris Poll, office romance is at a 10-year low, with 36% of workers reporting dating a coworker, down from 41% last year and 40% in 2008.

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Thirty-seven percent of men say they have dated a coworker compared to 35% of women, while one in five male workers (20%) say they have dated someone at work two or more times in their career, compared to just 15% of their female colleagues.

This survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll from November 28 and December 20, 2017 and included a representative sample of 809 full-time workers across industries and company sizes in the U.S. private sector.

“Office romance is experiencing a dip and whether it’s impacted by the current environment around sexual harassment or by workers not wanting to admit the truth, the fact remains that office romance has been around forever and will continue to be,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “To avoid negative consequences at work, it’s important to set ground rules within your relationship that help you stay professional in the office and keep your personal life private.”

Dating Up

Before getting into a relationship in the office, it may be best to avoid two types of workers—those who you report to and those who report to you. Twenty-two percent of workers have dated someone who was their boss at the time. Of those who have dated at work, more than a quarter of women (27%) say they have dated someone who was their boss compared to just 16% of men.

Additionally, 30% of these workers say they have dated someone who was at a higher level in the organization than they were. Thirty-five percent of female coworkers reported dating someone at a higher level in the company than them, compared to 25% of their male coworkers.

It’s All Fun and Games … Until Somebody Gets Hurt

Some relationships that started at work had a happy ending—31% of workers who dated at work ended up getting married. However, it’s not always this way—almost a quarter of workers (24%) had an affair with a colleague where one person involved was married at the time (27% of men compared to 21% of women). Six percent of workers have left a job because a romantic relationship with someone at work went sour (9% of women compared to 3% of men).

For tips on how to handle office romances, listen to the very first episode of the HR Works Podcast, here. BLR® Senior Legal Editor, Jen Carson, and HR Daily Advisor Managing Editor, Steve Bruce, team up to discuss how employers should handle these tricky relationships and offer guidance for HR professionals and employers.

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