Office Romances Pose Challenges for HR

February 14th, 2017 by

According to CareerBuilder’s annual Valentine’s Day survey, 41 percent of workers have dated a co-worker (up from 37 percent last year and the highest since 2007). Additionally, 30 percent of these office romances have led to marriage, on par with last year’s findings. The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from November 16 to December 6, 2016, and included a representative sample of 3,411 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

Office romances are just not happening between peers: Of those who have had an office romance, more than 1 in 5 (29 percent, up from 23 percent last year) have dated someone in a higher position than them — a more common occurrence for women than men (33 percent versus 25 percent). Fifteen percent of workers who have had an office romance say they have dated someone who was their boss. And as if dating a superior weren’t risky enough, 19 percent of office romances involved at least one person who was married at the time.

Additional survey findings include:

  • Nearly two in five workers who have had an office romance (38 percent) had to keep the relationship a secret at work. Male workers were just as likely to keep their office romances secret (40 percent) compared to their female counterparts (37 percent). By region, of those who have had office romances, 45 percent of workers in the Northeast say they kept their office relationships secret compared to 41 percent in the South, 34 percent in the West, and 31 percent in the Midwest.
  • About 1 in 5 employees (21 percent) say what someone does for a living influences whether they would date that person (18 percent of men and 24 percent of women). Seven percent say they currently work with someone they would like to date this year. Five percent of workers who have had an office romance say they have left a job because of an office relationship gone sour.

These trends serve as a good reminder to employers to conduct regular sexual harassment training.  CAI members have access to these online training tools: Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Employees and Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Managers and Supervisors. CAI helps 1,100+ member companies build an engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplace. We can help you today!

 Doug Blizzard brings a wealth of knowledge to CAI, serving as Vice President of Membership. During his first 15 years at CAI, he led the firm’s consulting and training divisions and counseled hundreds of clients on HR and Employee Relations issues. If he isn’t speaking at North Carolina conferences, teaching classes on Human Resources or consulting clients on EEO and Affirmative Action, Doug is leading the company’s membership services.

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