Study: What to watch out for if you enter an office romance

Workplace romances are one of those things that are really easy to idealize, but the second you apply principled reasoning, the concept can just as easily fall to pieces. Relationships don’t need any help in the headache department without having to adjust for professional hierarchies, conflicts of interest and property damage.

Maybe I’m just a close-minded cynic, considering a recent Monster survey found that one in four employees are totally okay with the potential for office rendezvous. ”The implications of dating a coworker are best examined on a case-by-case basis. Thoroughly understanding a company’s policies and culture is imperative.” This appraisal comes from a Career and Advice  Expert involved in the report. Mary Ellen Slayter believes it’s less about the professional position of the worker and more about the perspective of the relationship in question. She continues, “No one should jeopardize a good job for a quick fling. But, if you develop a very special connection with a coworker, remember that exploring other career options is easy; true love is hard to find.”

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Young Love at Work:  Perceived Effects of Workplace Romance among Millennial Generation Organizational Members

A peer-reviewed study published earlier this year in the Journal of Psychology furthers a kinder prognosis for instances of coworker romance. The results were derived from a survey of 171 organizational members between the ages of 18 and 29. These members either participated in a romantic relationship with someone from their office or had a privileged insight into one that occurred at their place of employment.

Ultimately the study pool’s weigh of the professional implications of an office romance depended on its outcome, with a few exceptions. For instance, however well the relationship faired, most agreed productivity and gender dynamics were doomed to suffer, but if it was a healthy long-lasting relationship, a similar majority occasioned boosts to employee satisfaction and general-collective office morale.

The consequences reported in the cases wherein a picket fence simply wasn’t in the cards, seemed to fractionally rival the boosts attributed to the contrary; psychological unrest, power imbalances, harassment, etc.  We’re all used to the question being posed as ‘How does a romantic partnership affect office culture?’ but rarely the other way around.

Love at first site

Participants in the new study that reported being in a healthy office relationship themselves said that the circumstantial proximity actually improved their love life, in addition to supplying an important base understanding of their career struggles. The cons cited a loss of boundaries,  awkwardness, communication-related complications and the burden of negative perceptions from others.

In fact, it should be noted that on balance, coworkers that experience the relationship, irrespective of its length, cited positive implications, while employees that merely witnessed these relationships, by and large, were less likely to index positive effects. The authors wrote, “Results indicate Millennial workplace romance partners focused on personal benefits and difficulties, whereas coworkers tended to identify organizational impacts. Women were more likely than men to identify drawbacks of workplace romance, and employees reporting on hierarchical versus peer-peer romances were more likely to identify the partners gaining workplace advantages. Implications for work-life blending and workplace romance policies geared toward Millennial organizational members are discussed.”