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Happy Valentine's Day, Your Office Romance is Inappropriate

Happy Valentine's Day! As you watch your co-worker purr over her potted ursine garden, here's something to take to heart: 1 in 5 employees in a new survey think somebody at work is engaged in an inappropriate office relationship!

Seattle-based leadership development and training company Fierce, Inc. surveyed more than 1,000 people for their views on office romance. Because nothing says "I love you" like cold, hard data!

Let's start with friendship, which is where all great romances begin! It turns out nearly three-fourths of those surveyed (74%) consider their co-workers to be their friends. As in, they really do like their co-workers as people. That's wonderful. It's nice when colleagues can get along. Things progress from there.

However, one in five surveyed said they work with someone who has engaged in an office romance that was unsuitable, unfitting, unbefitting, unbecoming, unseemly, improper, impolite -- just go ahead and pick your own synonym for "inappropriate," okay? We'll wait.


Watching some office romances play out can be distracting, like watching the colleague in an open office environment who clips his toenails at his desk every Monday morning at 10 a.m. sharp. You know what's going on, you try to tune it out, but you can't help but notice it sometimes.

In fact, Fierce found that office romances are more distracting than close friendships at work, and employees have differing opinions on office romances depending on their job title! More than half of senior managers surveyed think office romances are okay, but fewer than one-third (30%) of entry-level employees feel the same way.

Maybe this is why managers are more likely to have office romances: Fierce found that nearly 40% of company owners, executives and c-level staff have had an office relationship.

Office Romances Impact Job Satisfaction
Fierce concludes that dating at work can impact overall employee job satisfaction, so management is wise to set a few ground rules for office romance. Examples of how to work up an office romance policy on paper abound online, but here is one. This article offers great advice, as well.

Bottom line: entry-level employee may not know (or feel too awkward to ask) if the company has a corporate policy regarding office romance. Management memos (or the employee handbook) should take a few, short paragraphs to break down expectations for employees, which could come in handy should two co-workers eventually break up with each other.

And if your office romance doesn't work out, then please take heart: one in five of your colleagues probably thought your office relationship was somehow inappropriate, anyway. Happy Valentine's Day!


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