Office romances: Are employees being honest with HR?

Love is in the air, HR just doesn't know about it: survey

Office romances: Are employees being honest with HR?

A majority of employees involved in workplace relationships aren't being transparent to their employers about it, according to a new report, which underscored the importance of communicating related policies to ensure a smooth working environment.

A survey from Kickresume among 1,002 respondents found that 49% of employees would not disclose their office relationship to their boss or HR department, saying that they want to keep it private.

Only seven per cent said they would be open about it immediately, while 23% said they would only disclose it if it became serious.

Even after a break-up, only three per cent of respondents said they would seek HR support for mediation or conflict resolution, according to the report.

This could indicate a "lack of trust or confidence in the department to handle personal matters effectively," the report said.

"This may underline the need for HR departments to communicate their role and ability to provide support in sensitive situations more effectively," it added.

Prevalence of office romance

The findings come as 33% of the respondents confessed that they have been involved in an office romance, including 11% who said they broke up with one of them leaving the company and 10% who broke up but continued working together.

Majority of those who got involved in an office romance said they only flirted (38%). But there are others who said they ended up being serious about it (13%) or who got married to a colleague (14%).

Peter Duris, CEO at Kickresume, said their findings indicate how workplaces have expanded to become a social environment for building strong connections.

Office romance policies

Despite the prevalence of office relationships, 41% of the respondents said they weren't aware if their own organisation has a romance policy implemented.

Only 31% of the respondents are aware of such rules, including 15% who said office relationships are strictly prohibited in their organisations and 14% who reported their workplace is open and accommodating to such connections.

Duris advised that getting involved in a workplace romance calls for maturity and solid understanding of company policies.

He also told employers that communicating office romance-related policies would come in handy as workplaces evolve.

The advice comes amid major risks that come with office romances, with more than half (54%) of the respondents citing post-break up tension or awkwardness as the biggest risk. Others cited:

  • Conflict of interest, especially in the romance is between a manager or a direct report (43%)
  • Balancing professional and personal boundaries (41%)
  • Distraction from work affecting job performance (39%)
  • Perception of favouritism or bias from coworkers (34%)
  • Breach of company policies, potentially leading to job loss (25%)

"The role of well-communicated policies on office romances becomes paramount within organisations," Duris said. "This not only promotes integrity and transparency, but also ensures that everyone feels comfortable in their shared working environment."

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