Workplace Romance: If Loving You is Wrong…


A place where we share a common interest, and spend most of our time: The workplace. It provides the perfect prospect for love. In the workplace, proximity and people grow connections that can go way beyond just having lunch together. However, those who develop workplace romances may cause damages to morale and productivity in the workplace. They create a scandal that is distracting to the rest of us.

Cowan & Horan (2014) stated that a workplace romance (WR) is between two members of the same organization in which sexual attraction becomes present, affection is communicated and both recognize the relationship to be more than professional.

The Wall Street Journal reported that 47% of employees were currently involved in a WR and 19% would engage in one if the opportunity arose. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that 40% of employees had, at some point in their careers, been involved in a WR.

The decision to pursue a workplace romance may be provocative!

When Loving is Wrong in the Workplace:
• Threatens your career
• Complicates work relationships
• Confusion amongst coworkers: Romantic relationships in the workplace are easily identified by co-workers. Now…you are the talk of the town whereas your coworkers are coming up with all the reasons why they think you are romancing at work!
• Awkward interactions
• Work performance- It can negatively affect work performance due to distractions
• Conflict of interest-Disclosure of private information that may hurt either side once the relationship has fizzled
• Serial romances-After one romance goes sour, you develop another relationship in the workplace, and then another
• Creates tension in the work environment-employees tend to take sides
• Involve with a manager or an individual in a high position-Coworkers may feel as if the employee in the relationship receives special treatment or get a promotion without the knowledge and experiences
• Lies-When the romance is detected, dynamics changed to sexual harassment or even accusation of rape

When workplace romance have gone wrong:
• Because of a love triangle in the workplace, an intense altercation occurred in which one employee got ran over at a nearby business
• Spouse discovers infidelity and come to workplace with questions
• Ruined reputation
• Confrontation in the workplace

In a study by Salvaggio, et.al (2014), the researchers stated that it is important to study the totality of the work environment and personal characteristics that may contribute to romance in certain workplaces. They believe that their research will inform organizations about environments that tend to foster romance and which employees are most likely to engage in them; in other words, according to Salvaggio, et.al (2014); why do fools fall in love at work?

Unless cited, the views expressed  are solely the experiences and opinions of the author.

June Bridges Cox is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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