In today’s economy, working longer hours are a way of life for those who want to get ahead or simply stay employed. For many, these increased demands preclude the ability or desire to spend time dating. As a result, many employees turn to the workplace to find their romantic partners. Many single employees wonder whether dating in the workplace is a sensible option. It is no surprise that relationships blossom within the workplace when one considers that many rising stars in the business world are young and single. Combine that with the close proximity and long hours employees spend together, and it is no wonder that coworkers start to develop romantic relationships. In some cases, workplace romances have proven to be more successful than those outside of the office – a recent CareerBuilder survey shows that 31% of office romances even progressed into marriages.
But there are just as many pitfalls from office romance as there are benefits. If you involved in a workplace romance, you consider these questions first.
Does My Company Have a Policy on Workplace Dating?
Some businesses gave policies which strictly forbid dating amongst coworkers. These polices are typically created to reduce the business’s exposure in the event something goes wrong. If your company policy states that employees may not have romantic relationships with other employees, then you put yourselves at risk if you continue to pursue the relationship. You may also forgo rights to file a lawsuit for hostile work environment, sexual harassment, or other claims that may relate to your romantic relationship. Lawsuits like these cost businesses money, so they build in protections that may limit your options if you choose to ignore them.
Do I Need to Declare My Relationship?
Other businesses might allow romantic relationships, but only if both employees bring the relationship to the attention of the company. Again, this is usually so the employer can inform you of your rights and responsibilities, but may also require you both to sign a document that you are both consensually entering into the relationship and will not hold your employer accountable should anything go wrong.
Should I Avoid a Relationship with My Boss?
Think carefully before entering into a relationship with either your superior or someone who reports directly to you. Not only could a relationship like that lead to gossip and discomfort among other coworkers, but there are legal ramifications there, too. If projects or promotions are awarded within your relationship, others may claim favoritism. If the relationship ends, there could be animosity or questions about punishment or retaliation. If the relationship is your priority, consider requesting a transfer into another department so those issues will not cloud your judgment.
While more and more companies are enacting policies on dating in the workplace, it is increasingly important to know your rights and options. If you are a business owner, enacting such a policy may help to protect you and your employees. If you are an employee, make sure you know the rules before going forward with a workplace romance.