Human Capital & Careers

A Fine Romance, But No Policies

Love is all around the office, but employers have no formal way of dealing with it, survey says.
Stephen TaubFebruary 19, 2002

As a rule, most human resource professionals and corporate executives frown on workplace romances. Their corporations don’t generally have rules addressing the issue, however.

Or at least, that’s the finding of a new survey on workplace romance jointly produced by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and CareerJournal.com. According to the survey, the majority of HR professionals (81 percent) and executives (76 percent) said that workplace romances were dangerous because they can lead to conflict in the organization. Indeed, 76 percent and 71 percent respectively said workplace romances would be something they would personally avoid.

Nevertheless, 75 percent of HR managers in the survey, as well as 59 percent of executives, said their businesses had no policy on workplace romance. “It’s natural that when people work together, closely romantic feelings sometimes emerge,” said SHRM President and CEO, Helen Drinan, in a press release. “That is why organizations need a workplace romance policy to help set guidelines for what is appropriate, and to prepare the organization for challenges that may arise.”

The real challenge may be getting employees to refrain from workplace liaisons. Many employees still view their place of business as their love connection. Indeed, 66 percent of HR professionals and 57 percent of corporate executives in the survey said that over the past five years, workers who had been involved in a workplace romance got married. “Colleagues who are dating should find out what the company policies are on workplace romance so they can avoid potential negative consequences,” says Tony Lee, editor in chief and general manager of CareerJournal.com, in the press release. “Although they may not lose their jobs, employees involved in office romances could be viewed as unprofessional, especially if they are public in their displays of affection.”

The survey respondents included 558 HR professionals surveyed by SHRM and 663 corporate executives surveyed by the CareerJournal.com Web site.