Valentine's Day: Office romance is on the rise

Despite the pressures of modern work, employees appear to be finding love in the workplace

Valentine's Day: Office romance is on the rise

Despite the pressures of modern work, employees appear to be finding love in the workplace.

Three in four people, aged 25 to 34, say they’ve experienced dating a co-worker, a new survey from office supplies specialist Viking showed.

And nearly a quarter point out, their romance wasn’t just a fling – it was a lasting relationship.

Some workers (29%) from the same age group, however, say they are open to having just a one-night stand with a colleague.

These trends reflect the changing attitudes of younger workers about the issue of romantic relationships at work – a topic that was often considered taboo in previous generations.

READ MORE: This study claims office flirting reduces workplace stress

In contrast to the number of Millennials who report involvement in short- and long-term office romance, only 12% of employees aged 65+ say they’ve cultivated a romantic relationship with a colleague.

Love affairs in the workplace aren’t always rosy, however. While the study showed a growing number of co-workers engaged in romantic relationships, many face challenges when it comes to balancing personal and professional duties. Because of their love affair:

  • 44% of respondents report having been the subject of office gossip
  • 37% point to a decrease in their productivity and creativity
  • 21% witness an increase in their stress levels
  • 20% experience a negative impact on their well-being

Perhaps the most shocking trend? More than half of younger workers (54%) see no issue with having sex in the workplace, with 24% reporting they have even done the deed at work.

Martine Robins, director at The HR Dept, a professional HR services firm, recommends setting clear guidelines on office romances.

“Whether it’s a ‘romance policy’ or some other term, [it is about] clearly stating the importance of being transparent, particularly if there is likely to be a conflict of interest or a perception of favouritism,” Robins said. “The effects of trying to deal with such a situation once it is in motion makes it very difficult for all concerned.”

READ MORE: Can you legally ban office romances?

Stuart Hearn, CEO and founder of performance management platform Clear Review, cautions against the negative aspects of workplace romance but he also sees something positive in it.

“There are downsides to office romances. There is the potential for favouritism [and] distraction from work. But there is also potential for meaningful, lasting relationships, which is something to be celebrated,” Hearn said. “HR simply needs to ensure performance standards are being met and employees are as productive as ever.”

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