By Jennifer Jacobus, PHRca, SDEA Director of HR Services
She regularly sees her handsome coworker at the coffee pot. In fact, she has started drinking more coffee just to increase her chances of an encounter. He occasionally sees her in meetings and tries not to stare. They both know there is a spark between them, but they have been trying to act professionally and ignore it. They are definitely interested in a romantic relationship, but they both value their careers. Should they take the chance for romance?
As an HR professional, you are probably saying “No!” with conviction. However, a recent survey by Spherion Corporation found that 39 percent of workers said that they would consider a workplace romance, and the same percentage reported that they’ve already had a romantic relationship with a co-worker. Therefore, it might be it might be a good idea to refresh our collective memories as to why starting an office romance can be a bad idea.
Reasons why office romances are risky:
Everyone Will Find Out
How will your coworkers feel when they find out you are dating a colleague? Even when you try to keep an office romance quiet, it doesn’t stay quiet. People like to talk to their coworkers and friends about their love lives, so if she lets it slip that she is dating someone in the office, or if he casually mentions he is interested in a woman on his team, the rumors will be brewing. Once a romance begins, you can’t act on impulse because public displays of affection at work make everyone very uncomfortable. Getting caught kissing in the office is a quick way to lose the respect of your coworkers. Or worse yet, lose respect of management.
Damage to Your Reputation
A potential office romance will always fuel the rumor mill. Remember, in an office setting, perception is reality. Even subtle flirting at work can be enough to start the rumors of a relationship. There also could be the claims of favoritism if your love interest is your superior.
In a healthy romantic relationship, you should be able share all your personal and professional successes with your coworkers and your new love interest. Your personal life should enhance your happiness, not negatively affect your career.
Lose a Promotion
What happens if the relationship ends? If you end up with a bad break up, will you be able to avoid a major confrontation at work? If you break up with a superior, will you still be considered for a promotion?
Ideally, when you have a break up, the only effect on your career is that you will have more free time to work overtime which may ultimately earn you a promotion.
Lose Your Job
After an ugly break up, if the situation gets too uncomfortable, are you willing to leave your job? Or if confrontations happen on a regular basis, you may be asked to leave your job. Is your office romance worth looking for another job?
Many times people are spending so much time at work that they don’t have time to look for romance outside of the office. But just because office romances happen frequently doesn’t mean they are the best choice for you personally or professionally. So before you start one, ask yourself if the person you are interested in is really worth leaving your job. If not, keep your work relationships friendly and platonic which will prevent rumors and accusations by coworkers. To help keep your job and promote your career, it is best to think of everyone at the office as your first cousins you might feel an attraction, but there is no chance of romance. So for the sake of your career, you should look outside your office for romance.
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